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9th Annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball All-Star Game

by Bridget LeMaire.

By Daniel Smrokowski, Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger & Special Olympics Illinois Athlete Leader

From L to R: Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo, Nate Wade (SOCO), Carrie Nykiel (SOIL) and Horace Grant

On Friday, February 14, I had an opportunity to be an athlete reporter at the 9th annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game at NBA All-Star 2020 in Chicago. I attended this event, along with my SSIGM mentor & Chief Marketing Officer from Special Olympics Illinois (SOILL) Chris Winston and two other marketing & communications staff from SO Illinois, Alex & Bridget. During the Unified game, we sat courtside to watch the exciting game. I was honored and grateful to attend this star-studded sporting event, especially since basketball is one of my favorite sports in Special Olympics to compete in.

Here I am posing with my SOILL colleagues. From L to R: Chris, Alex and Bridget.

This Special Olympics Unified Game took place at the Wintrust Arena on Chicago’s south side during NBA All-Star Week, right before the Celebrity Game. In case you missed the thrilling #NBAAllStar2020 Unified game in the Windy City, the action was streamed live on the NBA’s Facebook page.

We had ten fellow Special Olympics athletes from across our Special Olympics North America Region, one athlete from Special Olympics Belgium (SO Europe-Eurasia Region), and one athlete from Special Olympics South Korea (Special Olympics East Asia Region). The teams were divided into two — the East Team (Home) and the West Team (Away). Both teams consisted of five Special Olympics athletes per team and celebrity Unified partners. Each team also had volunteer celebrity coaches. The number “24” was branded on the upper left breast of every athlete’s uniform in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, former L.A. Lakers professional athlete.

Sean Annan from SO British Columbia takes on Injae Kim from SO Korea.

Sean Annan, fellow Special Olympics athlete, traveled from his home which is 20 miles from Vancouver, Canada. Sean regularly competes with his team from Special Olympics British Columbia in his Langley program. In addition to basketball, Sean competes in golf. He also competes on a regular softball team.

“It’s a once-in-a-life-time [experience],” said Sean in a post-game interview near the locker rooms. “It’s really special meeting new people from different places [and] I’m having fun, that’s what it’s all about.”

Watch my full postgame interview with Sean on SCTV, the digital television platform on Special Chronicles LIVE: https://youtu.be/iUbVDrZqka0

Post-game interview with hometown hero Carrie Nykiel.

Directly from our home state of Special Olympics Illinois, USA, fellow Special Olympics athlete Carrie Nykiel didn’t have to travel far as she competes right in the Chicago area. Carrie competes in mostly every sport including volleyball, softball, and powerlifting.

“It was an amazing, great experience, [and] first time doing it,” said Carrie during a postgame interview after an excellent star-studded Unified basketball game during the NBA All-Star 2020.

Watch the full postgame interview I hosted with Carrie LIVE from the Wintrust Arena on Special Chronicles LIVE and airing on SCTV: https://youtu.be/jGuB0lIxQeo

Posing for a pic with singer/songwriter Andy Grammer!

For those who have attended any of our many Special Olympics events, our movement is driven by more than 1.1 million volunteers donating their time and expertise. That’s true for Andy Grammer, triple-platinum singer/songwriter, who stepped up this year as a volunteer coach for the 2020 NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball game.

Moments after the game, I had an opportunity to ask Andy about his experiences serving as a coach for this Special Olympics Unified Sports event.

“It’s the way it makes your heart feel,” said Andy about what the Inclusion Revolution means to him. “This is the best place to be.”

Watch the full postgame interview I hosted with Andy Grammer LIVE from Chicago on Special Chronicles LIVE — airing on SCTV and on SpecialOlympics.orghttps://youtu.be/bKOqlIszgOE

In memory of the late Kobe Bryant from the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team who had passed away a few weeks prior to this year’s NBA All-Star Week, our Special Olympics Unified Game concluded in an exciting moment that paid tribute to Kobe.

Getting Chris Carter’s reactions to his game-winning steal and jump shot!

Christopher Carter, fellow Special Olympics athlete, traveled from Special Olympics Virginia, USA. Chris’ parents coach for Special Olympics and he says his family lives and breathes basketball. Pointing at the number “24” on his yellow-colored uniform, Chris said his favorite part of the game was a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.

The score went back and forth in the fourth quarter and with less than 30 seconds left, Chris’ team was down three. After Unified partner Horace Grant scored to pull his team within one, Chris stole the inbounds pass and hit a baseline jump shot with 11 seconds left to seal the victory for his team.

“If it wasn’t for this number,” said Chris. “The game winning shot, of course, the gaming winning shot” was Chris’ favorite part of this year’s Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game during the NBA All-Star Week.

Watch the full postgame interview I hosted with Chris Carter moments after his winning shot. Now Available to watch on Special Chronicles LIVE, airing on SCTV the Special Chronicles digital television platform, SCTV: https://youtu.be/ff3dI5onvtk

I have to agree that this inclusion moment was my favorite part, too. Amongst many celebrities, we were able to bring our Inclusion Revolution movement to the NBA and the world of professional sporting events. This is the way to be fully included. This is how we can truly live in a Unified world.

Whether we are playing sports or interviewing fellow athletes & celebrities off the court, we all win when we #ChooseToInclude and join the Inclusion Revolution.

Sign the Inclusion Pledge at: JoinTheRevolution.org

Congratulations to all on competing in a thrilling Unified game!

Financial Reports

by Dave.

 

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Be an Ambassador

by Jamie Scovel.

As our Special Olympics Illinois Celebrity Soccer Ambassador, you can be the voice for 23,000+ athletes across the state. How can you help? The possibilities are #SOLimitless!

Getting Started

  • Brandt’s Bio
  • Meet the Team
  • Attend a Competition or Event
  • Social Media Announcement & Engagement
  • Experience Packages
  • Video PSA

Events

Resources

Resources

by Dave.

We have a variety of materials available to make your Special Olympics experience better. Explore the categories below for information and documents – we’ll be adding more as needed.

About Us
  1. 2019 SOILL Fact Sheet
  2. By The Numbers Fact Sheet
  3. SOILL History – Backgrounder
  4. SOILL History – Milestones
  5. Language Guidelines
  6. Annual Reports / Financial 990s
  7. Region Map
  8. 2019 Board Roster
  9. 2019 Foundation Board Roster
Athletes
  1. Application For Participation Instructions
  2. Eligibility To Participate
  3. English Med App-17
  4. Spanish Med App-17
  5. Participation By Individuals With Down Syndrome
  6. Athlete Partner Code of Conduct
Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs)
  1. ALPs Fact Sheet
  2. Global Messenger Flyer
  3. ALPs Interest Form
  4. Global Messenger Request Form
Coach Sports Resources & Rules
  1. 2020 Policies and Procedures
  2. 2019 Policies and Procedures
  3. Sports Icons
  4. Athlete Centered Coaching Guide
  5. Special Olympics Sports Sciences
  6. Class A Volunteer Registration
  7. English Med App-17
  8. Spanish Med App-17
Families
  1. Fans Brochure
  2. Family Credential Order Form
Rhythmic Gymnastics Routines & Videos 2016-2023

Click Here to View Rhythmic Gymnastics Routines

Artistic Gymnastics Routines & Videos 2019-2027
Volunteers
  1. Volunteer Code of Conduct
  2. Volunteer Screening Policy
  3. Volunteer Athlete Dating Policy
Young Athletes
  1. Young Athletes Fact Sheet
  2. Transition One Pager
  3. Young Athlete Registration Form – English
  4. Young Athlete Registration Form – Spanish
  5. Brochure – English
  6. Brochure – Spanish
  7. Activity Guide – English
  8. Activity Guide – Spanish
  9. Young Athletes Site Expectations
Additional Resources

Recycling Program

20 Incredible Colleges for Special Needs Students

The Power of Special Olympics Project Unify – Special Education Guide

Discover Accessible Fitness: A Wheelchair User’s Guide for Using Fitness Equipment

HALO at Heartland Community College Learning Opportunities Program

Facts About Down Syndrome

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About Us

by Dylan Eichelberger.

  

SOILL Meets High Standards with the Big 3 of Nonprofit Ratings and Information, Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator and GuideStar

Special Olympics Illinois has been awarded and meets the 20 BBB Standards of Charity Accountability. The 20 standards, as they are set by the BBB, relate to Board Oversight, Board Size, Board Meetings, Board Compensation, Conflict of Interest, Effectiveness Policy, Effectiveness Report, Program Expenses, Fund Raising Expenses, Accumulating Funds, Audit Report, Detailed Expense Breakdown, Accurate Expense Reporting, Budget Plan, Truthful Materials, Annual Report, Website Disclosures, Donor Privacy, Cause Marketing Disclosures and Complaints.

We are also proud to let you know that Special Olympics Illinois has earned our second consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, the leading charity evaluator in the United States. This is their highest possible rating and indicates that our organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Special Olympics Illinois exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in our area of work. Only 31% of the charities they evaluate have received at least 2 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that SOILL outperforms most other charities in America. This designation from Charity Navigator sets Special Olympics Illinois apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public our trustworthiness.

This means that you can be rest assured that Special Olympics Illinois works very hard to be exceptional stewards of your hard earned dollars that are donated to better the lives of SOILL athletes. It is also good to know that when potential donors use Charity Navigator to do research on charities, they donated more than they planned to before viewing their website and influenced over $10 billion in charitable gifts in 2018. So, being held in high regard by Charity Navigator can aid in helping to grow our donations, increasing the opportunity for our athletes.

Special Olympics Illinois also earned, from GuideStar, a 2019 Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest level offered by the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. To reach the Platinum level, SOILL added extensive information to its GuideStar Nonprofit Profile: basic contact and organizational information; in-depth financial

information; qualitative information about goals, strategies, and capabilities; and quantitative information about results and progress toward its mission. By taking the time to provide this information, Special Olympics Illinois demonstrates its commitment to transparency and to giving donors and funders meaningful data to evaluate nonprofit performance.

GuideStar connects people and organizations with data on 2.7 million current and formerly IRS-recognized nonprofits. Each year, more than 10 million people, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media, use GuideStar data to make intelligent decisions about the social sector.

For access to Special Olympics Illinois Annual Report, click here

Organization

Special Olympics is a global organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sport, every day around the world. Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 18 sports for more than 23,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and over 13,000 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support.

Special Olympics began in Illinois with the first games at Soldier Field in July 1968 thanks to the efforts of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her peers. There are now more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries. Special Olympics is financially sound with diverse revenue streams, a thorough annual budget process and increasing organizational revenue streams. Special Olympics Illinois does not charge athletes or their families to participate in the program.

OUR MISSION

Provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

OUR OATH

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

OUR REACH

  • 23,316 athletes (children and adults) with intellectual disabilities
  • 13,385 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities
  • 48,300 volunteers and coaches
  • 201 competitions each year
  • 18 Olympic-type sports
  • Programs in 11 Regions, each coordinated by a Region Director and a volunteer committee
  • Dynamic sports and corporate partnerships
  • 2019 Reach Report | 2018 Reach Report | 2017 Reach Report | 2016 Reach Report

OUR SOLUTION

  • REAL SPORTS: Deliver high-quality training and competition in an inclusive culture that stresses athletic excellence, rewards determination, emphasizes health and celebrates achievement.
  • ATHLETE HEALTH: Promote the overall well-being of people with intellectual disabilities via programs that ensure ongoing access to quality, community-based health care services, highlighted by free health screenings at Special Olympics competitions, games and other venues.
  • TRANSFORMATIVE EDUCATION: Equip young people and adult influencers with effective tools and training to create sports, classrooms and community actions that produce friendships and acceptance, driving positive attitude and behavioral change.
  • BUILD COMMUNITIES: Marshal resources, implement diverse programming and act as a convening power of stakeholders to drive positive attitudinal and behavioral change toward people with intellectual disabilities in communities statewide, strengthening the fabric of society


Who is eligible to participate?

To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics traditional program, one must be at least 8 years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially designed instruction. The Special Olympics Young Athletes program was created for children with intellectual disabilities ages 2-7.

Can individuals with profound disabilities participate in Special Olympics?

Yes, through Special Olympics Motor Activities Training Program (MATP), developed by physical educators, physical therapists and recreation therapists. MATP emphasizes training and participation rather then competition.

Are there differences between Special Olympics and Paralympics?

Yes, Special Olympics and the Paralympics are two separate and distinct organizations with specific eligibility requirements.

The Need is Great

The need for services is great as we estimate that Special Olympics Illinois is currently serving about 10 percent of those eligible to participate and is always working to increase this reach. Individual donors account for 65 percent of our donations so we rely on people just like you to ensure that we can continue reaching out to more of those in need. You can do your part to transform lives by making an online donation now!

If you have questions not answered here, please email Special Olympics Illinois.


2020 SOILL Fact Sheet

SOILL History – Backgrounder

SOILL History – Milestones

Foundation Board Roster

Board Roster

Careers

FAQ

Annual Reports

2020-2025 Strategic Plan Priorities

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