Good works golfer

Jordan McKelvin, 14, is the only girl on the Westminster High golf team. She will use her play in tournaments this year to raise money for Johns Hopkins Children's Center. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun / February 22, 2012)

Jordan McKelvin, 14, hopes to turn her scores on golf greens into dollars to fund research and battle childhood diseases.

The Westminster High freshman and only girl on the Carroll County school's golf team has launched Birdies for Babies to benefit Johns Hopkins Children's Center. She hopes to raise about $10,000 as well as awareness for the life-saving research and dedicated care that the hospital offers its patients.

"I want to do something involved with children, something to help children," she said."I focused on Johns Hopkins because it is getting ready to open a new children's hospital in the spring. They are trying to find cures for children's diseases there."

The new, 205-bed Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children's Center will open this spring as part of the $1.1 billion patient care building Johns Hopkins Hospital will add to its East Baltimore campus.

In addition to team play, Jordan will also enter several tournaments on her own. Given her prowess on the greens and the number of games she will play, there could be lots of notable scoring, said her father Michael McKelvin, who is helping to land sponsors in Jordan's Birdies for Babies campaign. A birdie, for those not well versed in golf lore, is the term for scoring one under par — the expected number of strokes it should take a golfer to complete a hole.

"We are really new to charity work," said Michael McKelvin. "But we have already raised more than $1,000 for the hospital."

Golf has led Jordan down roads that few other teens travel and she feels a need to share her good fortune, she said.

"There are lots of kids at Hopkins, who don't get to do what I do," she said. "There are things that I take for granted. I get to travel, while some of these kids don't even get to leave the hospital for weeks."

Denise Goode, associate director of development at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said Jordan is one of many donors, although one of the youngest, helping the hospital.

"We rely on individuals like Jordan to help us provide the best possible care to our kids and their families," Goode said. "We couldn't be happier to share in her success and benefit from her passion."

Jordan hopes to tour the center soon and meet some of the children her fledgling charity will help. She has already come to realize how the doctors and staff "make sure these kids feel at home in what can be a strange and scary environment for them."

Her parents, Sandy and Michael, are assisting with the fund-raising effort.

"She is already the busiest teenager I know," said her father. "Now she wants to raise money for charity and promote golf, especially for women."

Jordan has found golf to be "a really relaxing chance to get away from everything," and has encouraged other young women to get involved in the sport.

"In my age group in Maryland, you would be lucky to find four girls in a tournament," she said. "I hope to change that."

Jordan has been playing golf nearly since she started to walk. She can remember how a set of plastic clubs piqued her interest in the sport, long before she entered kindergarten. She began taking lessons while she was in elementary school and entering tournaments at the age of 9. Her parents built a putting green in the backyard of their Westminster home so she could practice at home.

Jordan is a member of the Maryland State Junior Girls Team and has been training with the Westminster High team for the spring season.

"When I joined the team at WHS and was the only girl, I figured they would either take me in or never talk to me," she said. "They really welcomed me."

She hopes to win her teammates' support in her drive to make Birdies for Babies.

"I love golf and I love kids," she said. "Now I will just keep swinging and maybe, I can help other kids with golf."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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