GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - I.K. Kim had never heard of the Special Olympics two years ago. But she wanted to donate money to an American-based charity and researched ones that were out there.

A friend told her about the international program that helps intellectually disabled people compete in sports.

More than 1 million athletes compete in the Special Olympics in 170 countries, but it all started in the United States.

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Kim found her foundation.

She was named a global ambassador for the Special Olympics at a news conference at the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Saturday.

"I'm just thrilled to be part of the organization," said Kim, who is 4-over-par after the tournament's first two rounds. "I'm looking forward to working with the athletes with lessons and clinics. Mostly, I think awareness. I think a lot of people don't have an education (of what the Special Olympics does)."

Kim has looked for ways to give back throughout her career. In 2010, she won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and announced she would donate her entire winnings of $220,000 to charity.

Half went to the Lorena Ochoa Foundation and the other half to the Special Olympics.

"Five years on the tour, she has been one of the top 10 golfers in the world," said Peter Wheeler of the Special Olympics. "She has also taken her passion for golf and has shown a passion for people and community."

Several local Special Olympians were at the news conference to thank Kim but also to take part in a clinic she held after her second round.

Galloway Township's Michael Chanese, 29, was happy to see Kim and enjoy one of his favorite sports. Chanese competes in golf, bowling and boxing for the Special Olympics.

"I do like golf," Chanese said. "I like all the sports."

Chanese's mother, Carol, appreciates what the Special Olympics has done for her son.

"It means everything," she said. "He gets to play sports and is able to be part of something."

More golf at Seaview

During the Kim press conference, a spokesperson for the Special Olympics sneaked in another special announcement.

The Special Olympics North American Golf Invitational will be held at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in October 2013. About 150 golfers will compete in the event, which moves every year, on the Bay Course.

"It's exciting that our athletes get to compete on a championship course like this," Wheeler said.

Low round of the day

One day after shooting a horrible round, as Jennifer Johnson put it, she came back with the best of her career.

The 20-year-old American shot an 8-under 63 in today's second round.

"Out of my nine birdies, like two or three were long putts, so I was hitting my approach shots a lot closer," Johnson said.

Johnson is 2-under for the tournament and entered the clubhouse tied for 10th.

Consider where she started - in a tie for 114th and a long way from the cut line.

Johnson hit all 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens-in-regulation today.

That's a big difference from Friday when she missed four fairways and only hit half the GIR.

"I had to go out and play well," Johnson, an Arizona State graduate, said. "I played horrible yesterday. I was determined today and it worked out for me."

Johnson made four straight birdies from holes 2 through 5. She bogeyed the sixth hole when she 3-putted but came back with another birdie on the seventh hole. She also birdied holes 9, 12, 14 and 18.

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"I definitely got a little excited after I made four birdies in a row," Johnson said. "I've got to stay focused. I thought I did that pretty good today."


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