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2019 Polar Plunge #FreezinForAReason

by mdougan.

Tell us your reason!

Freezin For A Reason: What's Your Reason?

What's your reason for taking the Plunge in 2019? Tell us below!
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2017 Maggiano’s Hero Award Recipients

by Gina Fasolo.

On November 27, 2017, Special Olympics Illinois supporters gathered at Maggiano’s in Schaumburg for an evening to celebrate the Honorees of the 2017 Maggiano’s Hero Award. This award is given to a person, family, group or business which has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to Special Olympics Illinois.  It serves as a way to recognize efforts that strengthen communities and improve the quality of life for Special Olympics athletes.

The 2017 Award Winners:

Maureen Lucenti

For the past 18 years, the Homewood office of Special Olympics has been very fortunate to hold an annual event called the Construction Team Picnic. This is a free event for Special Olympics athletes where they enjoy friends, play awesome games, watch companion dogs perform, dance and of course enjoy a delicious picnic meal.  Several hundred Special Olympics athletes and their families attend the picnic held annually at the Allstate Corporate headquarters in Northbrook. Maureen Lucenti has been the person behind the curtain that makes this all possible. Maureen obtains contributions from local contractors that pays for everything from food to t-shirts. An event this size requires lots of volunteer help and Maureen makes this happen also.  Maureen recruits as many as100 volunteers each year to assure that everyone has a great time. The Construction Team Picnic might not happen if not for Maureen’s dedication and love for the children and adults who attend each year.

Karen MichalskiZurich North America

Zurich North America is a Swiss insurance carrier with over 140 years serving businesses worldwide, including 100 years in the United States. They have continually proven their commitment to delivering reliable and comprehensive insurance solutions to all of their customers. All of their passion goes into helping understand, manage and minimize risks.

But Zurich does much more than offer and manage great insurance. Zurich employees have been giving back to the communities where they live and work since they started doing business in the United States in 1912. They strive to connect employee passions and meet real community needs.  Through their volunteer program, Zurich insurance has been a supporter of Special Olympics for many years!

Zurich employees are a huge help at Special Olympics competitions including basketball and golf.  They also provide tremendous office assistance with spring games preparations at both the Chicago and Lincolnshire offices of Special Olympics helping to stuff coach’s packets and assembling thousands of nametags and athlete wristbands. The Zurich employees are always responsible, dependable, personable and efficient. But Zurich North America does more than volunteer.  Special Olympics Illinois has received more than $50,000 from the Zurich grant program over the last seven years.  Their financial support and employee volunteerism have benefitted over 5,000 Special Olympics athletes!

Rich Howe – Photographer 

It’s been said that photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Many of you may know him as the ‘man behind the camera’, but his real name is Rich Howe! If you haven’t met him yet you don’t have to look far to find him! Rich has been a volunteer photographer with Special Olympics Illinois for over five years. His goal? To photograph every Special Olympics Illinois sport and capture the essence of Special Olympics athletes in his work. Rich volunteers at more than a dozen competitions and fundraising events each year – this comes down to about 156 volunteer hours or four weeks of work.  And remember, Rich is a volunteer. This is quite a commitment for someone with a family including grandchildren.  Rich has volunteered at Polar Plunge, Winter Games, First Look for Charity, Skating Championships, State Basketball, Aquatics meets, Spring Games, Summer Games, the Windy City Rubber Duck Derby, Plane Pull, Outdoor Sports Festival, the Inspire Greatness Gala, Fall Games, Floor Hockey, and State Bowling, just to name a few.  Even in below zero temperatures on Chestnut Mountain at Winter Games in Galena, Rich always has a smile on his face.

Mike McGowan – Ideal Lease

Idea Lease is a premier commercial truck lease and rental company and a leader in the transportation industry, with more than 430 locations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Idealease has been a key sponsor for the Truck Convoy benefiting Special Olympics Illinois for the last nine years.

The Truck Convoy is a national Special Olympics fundraising event that celebrates the trucking industry. It is hosted by Law Enforcement Torch Run and began in Illinois in 2005. After five years with a slow climb in truck participation, the Truck Convoy had not quite grown to the potential that was hoped. In 2009, Idealease Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Keric Kennedy, saw the benefit of partnering with Special Olympics Illinois and the Truck Convoy. It was then that Idealease came on board as a presenting sponsor for the Special Olympics Illinois Tinley Park Truck Convoy.

Suddenly, other companies in the Chicagoland area were registering trucks, spreading the word about the excitement, community participation, and fundraising component of the Truck Convoy. Since then, Keric and Idealease have been a leader in promoting the opportunity to participate in the Truck Convoy among other truck and transportation companies in the industry. But there is more.  In 2015, the Hoffman Estates and Buffalo Grove Police Departments started a second Truck Convoy event, held at the Sears Centre. Idealease signed on immediately to be a Guardian Sponsor for both Truck Convoy events, which allowed the Law Enforcement Torch Run the opportunity to reach more truck and transportation companies and cross-promote the sponsorship.  In 2017, both Tinley Park and Sears Centre Truck Convoys are reaching hundreds of truckers! It’s not likely that either Truck Convoy would have the success that it enjoys without the longtime commitment and generosity of Keric Kennedy and Idealease.

Ginny Luptak and Craig Alm – Lambs Farm

Lambs Farm is a place that provides all of the essential ingredients for people with developmental disabilities to grow: a safe, caring, living environment; an extended family of peers with shared values and mutual respect; opportunities to have productive employment and contribute to the community while being as self-sufficient as possible. What began as a small pet shop in 1961 employing 12 individuals with intellectual disabilities, has now blossomed into a 70-acre farm making a difference in the lives of nearly 250 participants and thousands of visitors each year. You have probably seen Lambs Farm as you travel on I-94 near Libertyville.

Lambs Farm has been active with the Special Olympics Illinois Area 13 office for years. Lambs Farm is one of the largest participating agencies in northwest Illinois and competes in Basketball, Snowshoe, Swimming, Bocce, Track and Field, Softball, Golf, Bowling, and Floor Hockey. Lambs Farm hosts the Area Snowshoe event each year in January providing the facility space, equipment, and support to make the event a huge success. Recently they began hosting a Motor Activity Training Program event for those athletes who have phased out of the traditional sporting events. The Director of their Special Olympics program, Ginny Luptak, and Wellness Manager, Craig Alm, along with the recreational Lambs Farm staff always go above and beyond at events to assure that everyone is having a quality experience. Lambs Farm – their staff, administration, and athletes – is a tremendous partner.

Devin Marina and Caitlin Hillsman

The definition of the dynamic duo is simply a powerful pair of people. When the Chicago office of Special Olympics thinks dynamic duo, they think of Devin Marino and Caitlin Hillsman. While other couples might be unsure about what to make for dinner J, these two have provided unwavering support as members of Chicago’s Event Management Committee. Since 2012, Devin and Caitlin have been a strong, positive presence at Chicago competitions throughout the year.  Duties include equipment set-up, scoring, agency check-in, volunteer supervision, lunch supervision and awards distribution. Their keen attention to detail has improved the scope of how competitions run in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. And their selfless nature has influenced others around them to support Special Olympics as volunteers. Devin and Caitlin live in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood and both have busy careers.   Caitlin works for Fifth/Third Bank and Devin is a paraprofessional for students with special needs while working on his Master’s Degree in Special Education. They are both Iowa Alum and huge Hawkeye fans! Special Olympics competitions and fundraising events can’t succeed without the involvement of volunteers.  Devin and Caitlin are outstanding examples of volunteers whose passion, hard work and big hearts impact thousands of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

David Taranda and Sherry Chambers – Allstate Insurance

The Allstate Corporation is the largest publicly held personal lines property and casualty insurer in America, serving more than 16 million households nationwide. Founded in 1931, Allstate has been dedicated to protecting their customers from life’s uncertainties and preparing them for the future for more than 85 years. Allstate is a great supporter of Special Olympics and has been involved in many different ways. They are active, dependable volunteers at sports competitions and fundraising events throughout the year.  Allstate has invited Special Olympics to speak at events to advocate for children and adults with disabilities. Many Allstate employees volunteer at the Special Olympics Illinois Young Professional Board helping to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois. Allstate shares employees who volunteer at competitions including basketball, gymnastics, track and field and softball.

Their helping hand’s program allows employees of Allstate to designate a charity that they would like to see their company invest in and that they feel passionate about.  Special Olympics Illinois has received several thousands of dollars through this grant program.On top of all of the great things, Allstate and their employees do for Special Olympics, they continue their commitment to providing volunteers needed at the   Palatine Polar Plunge every year in February!

Jose Gavina and Miguel Rodriguez

Prospect High School, one of the top-achieving schools in the state, serves the villages of Mt. Prospect and Arlington Heights.  96% of Prospect graduates attend a post-secondary institution.  In addition to providing a first-rate academic experience, Prospect High School is also home to one of the most accomplished and reputable co-curricular programs in the Midwest.  We are pleased to have their Superintendent Donald Angelaccio with us this evening.

Jose and Miguel work for Prospect High School where Special Olympics Area 18 hosts its annual Spring Games.  It is fair to say that Jose and Miguel have a busy workload overseeing a large high school.  However, every year, Jose and Miguel work for days ensuring that every detail is perfect at the school for the Special Olympics Spring Games. The Area 18 Spring Games welcomes more than 500 Special Olympics athletes to this full-day track and field competition.  Clearly, an event this large requires a great deal of planning, set-up and teardown and Jose and Miguel get it done each year. The day of the spring games event, Jose, and Miguel arrive before the sun rises working with staff and students to make sure tables, chairs, equipment, supplies, signage, and water jugs are in place.  They work with other staff at Prospect High School to assure that everything that is needed is in fact where it is supposed to be.

Alex Gara – American Bocce Company

American Bocce Company began volunteering with Special Olympics Illinois in 2014 when they were still the Wicker Park Bocce Club. They grew over the years and became American Bocce Co., but they didn’t forget the little guys. Who could possibly do a better job at sharing their love of bocce with Special Olympics athletes and volunteers than the American Bocce Company?  These young people have volunteered as court supervisors in both the Chicago and suburban Cook County programs of Special Olympics district bocce competitions for years. Rain or shine, they share their time and obvious love of the game.   American Bocce Company works hard to recruit volunteers and court supervisors to assure that the competitions are run efficiently and successfully.  Not only do these volunteers help at Illinois area events, they have also volunteered at the Special Olympics Illinois State Summer Games in Normal.

American Bocce Co.’s founder Alex Gara has even traveled to Los Angeles, California to volunteer his time at the Special Olympics World Games.  In addition to being involved with Special Olympics Illinois, they provide training as well as bocce courts to many other state and international Special Olympics programs. Special Olympics appreciates their continued support, their very generous contribution of time and knowledge and their inspirational devotion to the athletes who participate in Special Olympics.

Chris and Mike Sroka

Chris and Mike Sroka have been involved in Special Olympics for more years than they can count.  They helped to build not only one but two elementary school Special Olympics teams from the ground up. Chris and Mike have coached many sports, everything from basketball to bowling to snowshoeing.  They worked tirelessly to obtain free physicals for athletes – a requirement for participation.  They have volunteered at literally dozens of events, served on Event Management Teams and Fundraising Committees. They have even coordinated fundraisers within their family!

Chris and Mike are tireless supporters of the Special Olympics Illinois Young Athletes Program, which works with children between the ages of two and seven, and both are active inclusion advocates.  Chris is a champion for the Unified Schools Program and is the Chair of the Educator Leaders Network. Their passion, dedication, and commitment to Special Olympics shines through at local, regional, and statewide programs with their focus always on the athletes

Joe Waldau 

Once and awhile, Special Olympics Illinois has the good fortune to connect with an individual or business that is looking to make a difference and make it locally.   Ten years ago, Joe Waldau and his company, Sternberg Lighting located in Roselle, found their way to Special Olympics Illinois.  Ten years and ten Spring Games later Sternberg Lightning continues their generous, annual sponsorship which is approaching $80,000.  Of course, it is not only the invaluable financial support which is so important to Special Olympics.  Through his volunteer participation, Joe has become an invaluable member of the Track 1 Bullpen family.

Every spring Joe gets to see exactly how the Sternberg donation helps athletes and families in the area. And the volunteer crew has been together for 10 years. Chris, Ken, Pam Nelson and Joe under the leadership of 30-year volunteers Pat Schey and Larry Matchen- also here tonight – have fun while making sure every athlete makes it to their race. Amidst the chaos, questions, foul balls, wrong bullpens,  unhappy coaches and bad weather- something keeps them coming back for more! To the great crew of bullpen 1 – many thanks for keeping that finely tuned machine running. And to Joe Waldau and Sternberg Lighting- for all that you have done to ensure that Special Olympics athletes get the best possible Spring Games experience….. thank you!

CBS Radio

Entercom Chicago, formerly CBS Radio, has been a supporter of the Special Olympics Illinois Dunkin’ Donuts – Law Enforcement Torch Run – Cop on a Top fundraiser that takes place in May throughout the entire state of Illinois. Entercom Chicago supported many of the Chicagoland locations by having radio stations B96, US99, The Score and WXRT FM at Dunkin’ Donuts live on the air to help raise money for Special Olympics Illinois.

In 2017, Entercom Chicago radio station B96 stepped up again supporting the Special Olympics Illinois Coaster Challenge at Six Flags Great America. Looking to the future, Special Olympics Illinois has been in discussions with Entercom Chicago about having all six of their stations support the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary this July, from promoting the star-studded concert to the Unified Soccer Cup, Law Enforcement Torch Run, Eternal Flame and Global Day of Inclusion. Entercom Chicago’s core purpose is to entertain and inform their local community with relevant, compelling content through diverse platforms and to provide impactful solutions for their partners.   Each of Entercom Chicago’s six preeminent radio brands is Community Focused – Community Proud and dedicated to supporting organizations who do good work where listeners live, work and play.

Special Olympics Illinois Area 3/Chicago Basketball Competitions

by Jamie Scovel.

Athletes from across the city of Chicago competed in a variety of both Basketball Teams and Individual Basketball Skills competitions for the chance to win the Gold Medal and advance to the State Basketball Tournament in March!

Area 3/Chicago hosted 8 days of basketball competitions, which allowed approximately 2,000 Chicago athletes to compete.  Athletes were divided by both age group and regional location to accommodate the growing participation numbers in the sport and allow for quality competition at all events.

These events would not have been possible without the substantial support of volunteers!  The facilities that hosted these various events were also beyond accommodating and welcoming to our athletes, coaches, volunteers, and fans!  Thank you to University of Chicago, Quest MultiSport, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, The Kroc Center, and Northeastern Illinois University for the continued support and generosity. And thank you to Jackson National Life Insurance for their contribution to support Special Olympics Illinois Area 3/Chicago basketball competitions!

Congratulations to all Chicago athletes who competed in Basketball this year!  Approximately 300 athletes from 30 different Chicago delegations will be heading to Normal, Illinois in March to compete in 2017 State Basketball!  Best of luck at the State Basketball Tournament!

Area News – November 2016

by Jamie Scovel.

Area 1

Young Official a New Face Above Volleyball Court

Volleyball players, coaches and family members may have noticed a new face on the court during Fall Games on Oct. 23, 2016. The fresh face on the scene was Orintho Farris, an official who is also a student at Rockford Auburn High School.

Official Orintho Farris Jr. talks with athletes prior to a volleyball game at Fall Games

Official Orintho Farris Jr. talks with athletes prior to a volleyball game at Fall Games

Farris has been enthralled with officiating since he was young. As a young boy watching a game, he questioned who the people in the striped shirts were and what they did in the game. He soon learned they were the rule keepers. Farris, a rule lover himself, was inspired.

Farris now officiates basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball and football. His active involvement with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) lead him to many events. When the opportunity to officiate at Fall Games arose, he was quick to accept.

“I enjoy the competition and sportsmanship I see in the athletes. They play hard, like anyone would,” says Farris. Read More

Area 2

Donations for Special Gifts Holiday Party Sought
Special Olympics Illinois Far West Suburban/Area 2 invites you to begin your holiday season with the annual Special Gifts Holiday Party at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. As the preparations begin, we ask you to consider helping out this holiday season.

DSC 0032 1Here are a few ways to lend a hand:

  • Contribute towards our Gift Card Pull by donating a gift card to your favorite store in the amount of $5, $10 or $25
  • Donate an auction item or gift basket for our silent auction
  • Donate your goods or services: If you or anyone you know has a special talent please consider being featured in the auction (i.e. landscaper, scrapbooker, photographer, organizer, etc.)

Your help directly and positively impacts our athletes in so many incredible ways. Special Olympics athletes have fun and develop physical fitness, they find acceptance, become confident and aspire to greatness in other aspects of their lives.  As families cheer their loved ones, they experience more pride and support.  When others get involved—as volunteers, coaches and donors—their actions change their lives and the lives of others in extraordinary ways.

DSC 0078Donations will be accepted until Dec. 1. Please mail donations to: Special Olympics Illinois, 500 Waters Edge, Suite 100, Lombard, IL 60148.

The evening includes raffles, athlete caroling and a live and silent auction at the Bartlett Hills Golf Club. Holiday Music will also be provided by the Yanni Family.

Proceeds benefit more than 1,800 local athletes who compete in Special Olympics Illinois Far West Suburban/Area 2.

Tickets to the Special Gifts Holiday Party are on sale now! Please contact Amanda Nelson to purchase or with any questions via 630-942-5616.

Area 2 Athletes Golf at Rich Harvest Farms

Six lucky golfers from SOILL Far West Suburban/Area 2 had the opportunity to play at an exclusive golf club thanks to the Marmion Golf Team last month.

Marmion And SO At Rich Harvest 1After the Marmion Golf Team placed second in their state competition, they were invited to play at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. These athletes graciously invited Special Olympics Illinois athletes to enjoy the experience with them.

This group of athletes golfed 9 holes together in the truest form of Unified sports. Caddies and forecaddies accompanied along the course.

Rich Harvest Farms has been a premiere destination for golfers from all over the world.  This is an ultra-private, members-only facility and its course has earned many distinct honors including consistently being named one of Rolex’s “World’s Top 1,000 Golf Courses” and Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.”

The Marmion and Far West Suburban/Area 2 relationship dates back 26 years. Marmion Academy was one of the first event host locations for Area 2. They hosted the Area track and field meet from 1974-1976, and also hosted the first aquatics meets.

Special Olympics Illinois is thankful to Marmion Academy for the opportunity and to Rich Harvest Farms for hosting such a unique experience.

Area 3

YPB Board Hosts 6th Annual Thanks-for-Giving

TFG6 InvitationThe Special Olympics Illinois Young Professionals Board (YPB) will host the 6th Annual Thanks-for-Giving (TFG6) on Nov. 17.  This exciting event, Co-chaired by YPB members Alia Zander and Carly O’Toole, will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Public House, 400 N. State St., Chicago.  The event is expected to sell out with more than 100 guests who will enjoy delicious tastes of beer and wine.  An exciting auction and raffle is also planned with donations including Bears tickets, CUBS tickets, spa packages, theater tickets, hotel overnights, and gift cards at restaurants throughout Chicago.

The YPB was created in 2006 and has raised more than $300,000 for Area 3/Chicago.  A planning committee of 18 YPB members has been working on this event since March and is excited to welcome guests.

Ticket information can be found here.

Wells Fargo Foundation Shares Donation

Special Olympics Illinois was the recipient of $5,000 shared by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Wells Fargo has become one of the nation’s largest financial institutions serving one in three U.S. households and serving 70 million customers in more than 130 countries.  Wells Fargo has locations and team members located around the world. Suzy Thomas is part of the team at the Chicago location of Wells Fargo and has increasingly become part of the volunteer team at Special Olympics Illinois.

It is because of Thomas’ tremendous volunteer participation at the Area 3/Chicago office of Special Olympics that the Wells Fargo Foundation shared the contribution. Thomas submitted an application to the Wells Fargo Good Works Committee requesting a donation to Special Olympics Illinois.  The committee reviews requests and qualifying non-profits receive a contribution based on employee volunteer involvement.

Thomas volunteers for Special Olympics Illinois including assistance at fundraising events and participation on the Area 3 Event Management Committee.  In addition, she is a Class A volunteer and chaperones athletes to competitions and is an active Unified partner competing in bocce with her athlete partner.

Thomas is a valuable volunteer, example to many and friend to all. The Area 3/Chicago program has benefited from her generous contributions for more than 14 years and has impacted on the lives of thousands!

Coaches Conference

Carmen Lopez, center,

Carmen Lopez, center, was named Chicago/Area 3 Coach of the Year

Three hundred individuals came to Northside College Prep High School in Chicago on Nov. 4 to attend the 2017 Coaches Conference. Coaches and chaperones received information related to the 2017 Spring Games competition, how to create a basketball team, policy and procedures, and other related items.

The event was concluded with the distribution of raffle prizes and the presentation of the Coach of the Year Award which was given to Carmen Lopez, one of the Area’s most deserving and dedicated head coaches from Eckhart Park.

Overall, the Coaches Conference was a success and the Special Olympics Chicago team is looking forward to a successful 2017!

Area 5

SEASPAR Honors World & USA Games Athletes on Wall of Fame

30596163602 C53f2fd706 OVisitors to Southeast Association of Special Parks & Recreation’s office in Downers Grove are greeted by an International & National Athletes Wall of Fame.

The Wall of Fame is a group of plaques honoring SEASPAR’s 11 Special Olympics athletes who have been selected to compete in World or USA Games over the last 40 years. Read More

Area 6

Athlete Finds Unique Way to Raise Money for Polar Plunge

IMG 3517 WebSpecial Olympics Illinois athlete Jacob Cross of Bloomington is looking forward to repeating the
Polar Plunge at Bloomington’s Miller Park on Feb. 25, 2017. Jacob has come up with a rather unique way of raising the minimum $100 to participate in the event that helps both Special Olympics and the environment.

Jacob plunged in 2016 with his Special Olympics team from Tri-Valley High School. Afterward, he told his mother, Julie, he wanted to do it again in 2017. She told him “If you want to this again, let’s try to raise $100 by recycling cans. Why not see how much we can collect?”

Jacob was all in. He already had experience collecting aluminum cans; he had collected cans as a cool-down in the local parks after track practices.

He started with purpose over the summer and ramped up his efforts this fall. He visits local public parks to collect the cans and takes them to a local recycling plant to exchange for cash. Read More

Area 9

Effingham Lightning Unified Volleyball Team

2016FallGames ME3891The Effingham County Lightning brought its first Unified Sports team to the Fall Games in Rockford on Oct. 22-23, competing in volleyball at the state level. The team of three Special Olympics athletes and three peers from the community is a close-knit, family-like group.

The team is comprised of Special Olympics athletes Kraig Dahnke #1, Shane Soltwedel #50 and Rachel Zakutansky #15; partners Allison Deters #11, Lacy Ludwig #14 and Jennifer Soltwedel #6; and coaches Lori Ludwig and Sue Zakutansky. Athlete Tom Frichtl played on the team throughout the season, but was unable to travel to Fall Games because of family reasons. Read More

The Great Taste of Something Special

Special Olympics Illinois East Central/ Area 9 celebrated after a successful turnout to The Taste of Something Special Fundraiser and auction! We were able to raise a total of $15,434! The benefit was held at The WalkWay in Mattoon on Oct. 13. Some of the items up for bid in the silent auction included a handmade wooden cooler chest, 4 tickets to Busch Stadium for a Cardinals game and a fire pit. Approximately 165 tickets to the event were sold. The Taste of Something Special raised more than $9,000 in sponsorship donations, almost $2,500 in total ticket sales and another $3,639 in raffle and auction sales!29838782873 27b52cc788 O

This event truly showed the athletes how important they are to Special Olympics Illinois as well as how much the communities encompassing East Central/Area 9 value their participation. Events such as these ensure Special Olympics athletes never have to pay to participate in sports competitions and trainings. It would not have been possible without the donors, planning committee, volunteers and, of course, the athletes! We would like to express our deepest gratitude for all the hard work. To further explore this magical night, follow this link to view pictures from the event.

Areas 13 & Area 18

Suburban Young Professionals Board Presents The Ugly Sweater Party

Join the Suburban Young Professionals Board for an Ugly Sweater Party to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois! On Dec. 8, don your favorite holiday cardigan from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters in Crystal Lake.

Tickets are $20 and include food and drinks. Guests will have the opportunity to try the brand new Special Olympics Illinois Big Dreams Coffee Blend specially crafted by Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters. Additional coffee beverages will also be available for sale.

This blend features local athlete stories and bags will be available for purchase that evening. Proceeds from each bag sold will benefit Special Olympics Illinois.

Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos will provide entertainment for the evening. They offer a highly interactive and energetic show, all-request based, and designed to get people singing and dancing. As they put it: Dinner. Dancing. Dueling. Done.

The evening will also include a wine pull, silent auction and raffle. This event is for people 21 and older.

Tickets may be purchased online. Can’t make it? Purchase your Big Dreams Blend online here and scroll down to purchase a bag of coffee! All proceeds benefit the more than 2,000 athletes who compete in Special Olympics Illinois Areas 13 and 18.

If you would like more information on the event or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Kristen Wisniewski, Manager of Business Development and Partnerships Areas 13/18, at 847-370-7370.

Area News – October 2016

by Jamie Scovel.

Area 2

25th Annual Pumpkin Pedal 
On Sunday, Oct. 2, hundreds of bicyclists participated in the 25th Annual Pumpkin Pedal Bike Tour to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. This ride brought out serious riders and families alike.

IMG 1048This year’s event saw more than 330 riders and raised $10,045. Event proceeds will support year-round training for Special Olympics Illinois athletes.

Patty Niemaszyk has been participating in the Pumpkin Pedal for the past six years.

No stranger to Special Olympics, she worked for the Special Education District in Lake County at Laremont School in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It was then that she befriended Sandy Hutchins, the long-time former SOILL Far West Suburban/Area 2 Director, who convinced her to start a Special Olympics program at the school. The program became very successful and Niemaszyk stayed involved until she left the school in 1984. Read More

Thanks to Athletico for Volunteer Efforts

IMG 1033

A medical volunteer from Athletico examines an athlete’s arm at Volleyball Qualifier A in LaGrange.

Thank you to Athletico Physical Therapy for providing volunteers to various Special Olympics Illinois events. Athletico provided certified athletic trainers for Far West Suburban/Area 2 and Near West Suburban/Area 5 medical needs on-site for Senior Male Basketball, District Aquatics Meet, bowling, tennis, volleyball, district bocce, Pumpkin Pedal and the 3-6-9 Hole Golf Tournament. Athletico has also lent a hand to North Suburban Cook/Area 18 for basketball, gymnastics, Spring Games, bowling, Unified golf and volleyball events.

“Their coverage is instrumental to our programs for achieving one of the Big Three – Quality Competition,” said Amy Kaylor, Manager of Sports & Competition for Far West Suburban/Area 2. “The safety of our athletes, volunteers and all involved at our events is always our top priority. We truly value their partnership.”

Area 3

Chicago Floor Hockey Skills Competitions

Chicago/Area 3 hosted two regional Floor Hockey Skills Competitions in early October. Due to increased participation, the Area decided to have northern and southern competitions to accommodate athletes across the city.

20161006 105021 ResizedMore than 250 athletes competed in the competitions, with the north competition on Thursday, Oct. 6, at Jesse White Community Center and the south competition on Friday, Oct. 7, at Gage Park. Athletes practiced prior to the competition and were then tested on stickhandling, shooting and passing. Athletes who received a gold medal are eligible to advance to State Floor Hockey Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

20161006 093036 ResizedThe events would not have been possible without the generous support of volunteers! Volunteers from TD Ameritrade, Big Ten Network, Holland and Knight, Schneider Logistics, SoCore Energy and individual volunteers helped time and record scores at each of the skills stations, as well as assisted with distributing lunch and awards. Chicago/Area 3 thanks all volunteers for coming out!

Congratulations to all athletes and good luck at state!

Area 6

Taste of Something Special 

2016 S.O. Wine Event 5 X7 With .1 BleedsLet the fun begin! The inaugural Taste of Something Special will be from 6-8:30 p.m., Nov. 4, at The DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. The wine/beer-tasting and silent auction event will benefit SOILL Heartland/Area 6.

Don’t miss your opportunity to be part of this exciting evening. Tickets are now available for $30 per person in advance and $40 at the door. Ticket price includes 5 drink sample tickets, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a take-home Special Olympics wine glass. A cash bar is available and live entertainment will provide a festive ambiance.

During the evening you can begin your holiday shopping in grand fashion by bidding on many beautiful gifts available in the silent auction.

Tickets are available online or by contacting Jordan Vose at 309-888-2678.