HUNTERSVILLE – Huntersville resident Kristin Hunter will head to New Jersey on June 14 on a private jet to compete in tennis matches at the Special Olympics 2014 USA Games.  

The Special Olympics stands as the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. For over 40 years, staff has provided yearly training and competitions for more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries.

Hunter will play Level 4 tennis mixed doubles and tennis singles, but before the competitions begin, the 45-year-old woman will first travel to Raleigh on June 13 to have dinner with Gov. Pat McCrory.  

She has been with a nonprofit, UMAR, since 1990. UMAR provides services to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

UMAR operates nine supported living apartments in the town. 

“Hunter moved into the McCleskey Apartments in Huntersville two years ago and loves the independence it affords her,” said Sarah Smith, marketing communications manager of UMAR.

The Duke fan is not new to the game scene. Her love for sports motivated her to win different medals from past Special Olympic competitions. After swimming for more than 20 years, a friend encouraged Hunter to play tennis.  

“Although Kristin plays tennis now, she began participating in the Special Olympics as a swimmer,” Smith said. “These days, she says she enjoys getting to meet new friends and getting to know people from other places as a tennis player.”

Hunter was also inspired to get involved in the Special Olympics from her drive to improve her well-being.

“For her, being healthy is another important reason to stay active,” Smith said.

She trains in Charlotte with her doubles partner Chris Christenbury, who is also flying to New Jersey to compete in nationals. The two have a great relationship and enjoy playing on the court together.

Each athlete has a First Giving account on the Special Olympics website to solicit donations from friends and family to raise funds for their athletic events. 

“Hunter raised all of the money herself to compete in the tennis competition,” Smith said.

In addition to training and preparing for her trip up north, Hunter dedicates her time to the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte where she delivers flowers to patients.