Brad Hennefer is a 32-year-old self-advocate who is the inspiration behind the Brad Hennefer Golf for Life Foundation that has been providing golf athletic opportunities for individuals who have Down syndrome since 2006.
Born in 1988 in Philadelphia, Brad seems to have been destined to play “golf for life.” He started playing mini golf at age 2 with his then 7-year-old brother Bob, who is now an accomplished PGA golf professional. Brad, who is a lefty, was somehow able to maximize his visual learning skills and master his brother’s right-handed golf swing at a very early age. Together, these two inseparable brothers spent countless hours and years practicing their skills and competing in golf tournaments.
Fast forward to 2008, and Brad was featured in the national media on Good Morning America, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Comcast Sports, CBS, NBC and ABC due to his athletic accomplishments at Cherry Hill High School East in New Jersey. Brad is the first person with Down syndrome to play competitively on two high school varsity sports. He played on both the golf and basketball teams all four years, earning four varsity letters in golf and one varsity letter in basketball. He was also the first person in the Cherry Hill school district to be included in regular classrooms from day one of kindergarten and to graduate from high school in 2008.
In 2009, Brad was a recipient of People Magazine’s “All Stars Among Us” award, and he was honored at the Major League Baseball All Star game in St. Louis. In 2012, Brad participated in the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself DC Gala, where he escorted Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. In 2013, Brad was a speaker at the United Nations in New York as part of the World Down Syndrome Day conference. This summer, Brad and his brother Bob’s life-long golf journey came full circle as they competed against all 50 states in the Special Olympics 2014 USA games. They won a gold medal and set a new U.S. record.
You can read more about Brad’s journey in the books “Chicken Soup for The Soul Inside Basketball” and “Gifts 2.” He also shares his journey through public speaking engagements and his presentation, “While the Destination is Important, the Journey is the Ultimate Reward.” Brad hopes that by sharing his journey, he will help inspire others to work toward the goal of successfully including individuals with disABILITIES into all phases of school, athletic, work and community life. He is especially proud of himself for opening the doors of opportunity for other individuals who have disABILITIES, particularly whenever he hears about news stories of others who are now more commonly being included in their school’s extracurricular activities. Watch this inspiring video of Brad with his friend, Cleveland Cavaliers J.R. Smith.