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Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Special Olympics Illinois Announce 2017 Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All-Star Team

by Jeremy Davidson.

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Special Olympics Illinois are proud to announce the members of the 2017 Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All-Star Team.

Athletes

Guillermo Antolin – Thornton High School, Samuel Devereux – Hoffman Estates High School, Mark Jerabek – District 204 Alumni Eagles, Thomas Kuhn – Metea Valley High School, Ryan McDonough – District 204 Alumni Eagles, Billy Pierce – District 204 Alumni Eagles, and Daequan Wilson – Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

Unified Partners

Ethan Harvey – DVSA, Cori Hoekstra – Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Jared Hoekstra – Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Bryant Holdman – Kankakee High School, Colin Iverson – DVSA, Kaileen Phillips – Kankakee High School, and Illuvia Ramirez – Kankakee High School.

Coaches

The All Star team will be coached by David Dore (Homewood Flossmoor High School), Kelly O’Reilly (School District 54), Paul Caldwell (Chicago Fire) and Caleb Steffens (Chicago Fire), with support from Jessica Yavitz (Chicago Fire) and Jennifer Marcello (Special Olympics Illinois).

Mission

Created with the goal of bringing people together, Special Olympics Unified Sports teams have more than half a million participants worldwide who work together to break down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities. Unified Sports joins athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared training and competition exercises with the principle that training and playing together is the quickest path to friendship and understanding.

The Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All-Star Team will practice monthly at Fire training facilities. They will also travel with the Chicago Fire to play a road game in addition to hosting a match in Chicago. The game schedule includes:

  • Saturday, June 17 at New England Revolution (Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, MA)
  • Saturday, Aug. 5 vs. New England Revolution (Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL)

About Chicago Fire Soccer Club

Founded on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club enters its 20th Major League Soccer season with six major domestic championship titles including the 1998 MLS Cup and 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups, and 2003 Supporters Shield. Anchoring Chicago’s growing soccer fan base, the Fire play at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., located 15 miles from Chicago’s Loop. www.Chicago-Fire.com.

Special Olympics Illinois Area 3/Chicago Basketball Competitions

by Jeremy Davidson.

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!

Chicagoland Residents, Law Enforcement Officials to Participate in Plane Pull at O’Hare Airport

by Jeremy Davidson.

Participants Test ‘Tug-of-War’ Skills by Pulling 90-Ton Plane to Benefit Special Olympics Illinois

CHICAGO, Ill.  – Teams of local law enforcement agencies and the general public will participate in a larger than life tug-of-war challenge at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. They will face off with either a UPS Airbus A300 or United Airlines 737 aircraft at O’Hare International Airport for the benefit of Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull includes teams from law enforcement agencies, fire departments, private companies, high schools, colleges, fraternal groups and teams of friends and family. The Opening Ceremony is at 8 a.m.

“It’s great to see people supporting Special Olympics programs in Illinois and we’re excited to see them test their strength against a 90-ton airplane,” said Matt Johnson, Special Olympics Illinois Vice President – Development & Donor Relations. “In addition to those participating in the Plane Pull, we encourage family and friends to join in the spirit by supporting their loved ones and Special Olympics programs by making a donation to Special Olympics Illinois by visiting www.illinoisplanepull.com.”

Registration is now open online at www.illinoisplanepull.com.

Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10., when team captains can turn in their donations and pick up their T-shirts and other materials. New teams can still sign up that morning.

The event will be held on the tarmac next to the United Airlines Cargo Facility located on the south airfield of O’Hare International Airport. The area is located in between two East-West parallel runways – offering a unique perspective of planes arriving and taking off on one of the world’s busiest airfields.

Teams will be divided into three different divisions – Open Division is ideal for companies, school teams, church groups, clubs, friends and families; Public Safety Division is for law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, DNR, DOC and military personnel; and the Hotel Division created by popular demand. Each team of 20 will attempt to pull the plane a distance of 12 feet, with the top finisher from each division facing off for one final pull to determine the Grand Champion. To participate, each team is asked to raise a minimum of $1,000 ($50 per person) for Special Olympics Illinois. Teams raising more will be eligible for incentive prizes at the $2,500, $4,000 and $6,000 levels.

UPS and United Airlines are Presenting Sponsors of the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull. Other sponsors are Chicago Department of Aviation, City of Chicago, HMS Host, Durham School Services, Barilla Pasta, IlliniCare Health, FOX 32 Chicago, TD Ameritrade and Home Run Inn.  Because Special Olympics athletes compete free of charge, all money raised by the Plane Pull will directly assist in their training and competition.

“The Chicago Department of Aviation is honored and proud to once again partner with Special Olympics Illinois, UPS and United Airlines to host this unique and exciting community event at O’Hare International Airport,” said Ginger S. Evans, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation. “I want to thank all of the volunteers and participants who come out each year to support this event and help raise funds for Special Olympics.”

All media must RSVP in advance by contacting Gregg Cunningham by phone at 773-686-3700 or by email via cdamedia@cityofchicago.org.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the single largest year-round fundraising vehicle benefiting Special Olympics Illinois. The annual intrastate relay and its various fundraising projects have two goals: to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised $40 million over 30 years while increasing awareness of Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments.

Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 19 sports for more than 22,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 20,000 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics changes lives by empowering people with intellectual disabilities 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.  If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562 or visit our website at www.soill.org.

# # #

Contacts:

Alexandra McMillin, Special Olympics Illinois, 630-942-5621

Michele Evans, Special Olympics Illinois, 309-660-8497

Chicago Department of Aviation, cdamedia@cityofchicago.org, 773-686-3700

Corporate Sponsors, Sales Teams Ensure Success of Chicago Ducky Derby

by Jeremy Davidson.

This Aug. 4, Special Olympics Illinois will once again flood the Chicago River with 60,000 rubber ducks in support of the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois. To ensure the success of the event, we rely on corporate sponsors and sales teams.

One of the Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby sponsors, Hollister Inc., has been sponsoring the Ducky Derby since its inception.

“Special Olympics Illinois is a great organization that makes a tremendous impact on so many people across the state,” says Patrick Noble, General Manager, US Critical Care and Continence Care, Hollister Inc.

“The Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby is one of the organization’s most successful fundraisers and Hollister Inc. is proud to be a long-term sponsor of this event as well as a committed partner of Special Olympics Illinois.”

Duck adoption teams are crucial to the success of the Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby, as they account for 70 percent of the overall duck adoptions.

Duck adoption teams range from groups of friends and families to large corporations. These teams are forming throughout Illinois and compete for bragging rights and great incentive prizes.

Durham School Services has been the top corporate fundraising team for the past nine years.

“Durham School Services is proud to support Special Olympics, our No. 1 philanthropic cause,” said David A. Duke, CEO of National Express LLC, Durham’s parent company.

“Our team enjoys coming together and dedicating their time to an organization that makes a significant impact in the lives of others. The annual Rubber Ducky Derby event is one of many Special Olympics events that showcases our great team approach. We have been recognized as the top corporate sales team for the last nine years; only through our teamwork and dedication is this accomplishment possible.”

If groups or companies would like more information about getting involved, contact Shelley Chenoweth at 630-942-5619. For more information, please visit www.chicagoduckrace.com.

Those interested in supporting an existing sales team should visit www.chicagoduckrace.com. You can adopt a duck for $5, a Quack Pack (6 ducks for $25), a Flock of Ducks (24 ducks for $100) of new this year a Diamond Duck Pack (240 ducks for $1,000) for your chance to win one of the Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby’s great prizes including a brand new 2016 Chevy Malibu donated by Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers or an all-inclusive Apple Vacation.

The Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby is presented by Jewel Osco. Thank you to TD Ameritrade, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Big Ten Network, Chicago Sun-Times, Durham School Services, Dunkin’ Donuts, Fox 32 Chicago, Illinicare, Hollister, Lakeshore Recycling, 93.9 MyFM, BIG 95.5, and 103.5 KISSFM for sponsoring the event.

Chicago’s McCutcheon Elementary Students Gain Confidence

by Jeremy Davidson.

In January, McCutcheon Elementary School’s Special Olympics program participated in the Special Olympics Illinois Chicago/Area 3 North Junior and High School Basketball Skills Competition at DePaul University. Their team, coached by Erin Claxton, consists of 20 athletes between the ages of 8 and 13.

McCutcheonBasketballThe McCutcheon Elementary Special Olympics program began in 2014 with Spring Games and since then they have expanded to include basketball, soccer and softball skills.

Claxton, who grew up playing basketball in school, loved the sport and found joy in teaching it to her athletes beginning last November. “We selected the skills competition because our athletes had little knowledge of the game,” Claxton explains.

The team practices weekly in their gym, and the week prior to their competition, they held a pep rally at the school to get the excitement going for their competition. The athletes tried on their uniforms and watched the movie “Space Jam” to get extra pumped.

“A few of our athletes asked to be called Michael Jordan that week,” Claxton recalls.

Through the Special Olympics program, the McCutcheon Elementary students have had the opportunity to try new things. Claxton has seen growth in their confidence and notes that they have incredible sportsmanship.

McCutcheonSoccer2Claxton says she loves coaching because “it gives me a chance to teach valuable life lessons to our athletes.”

“They learn the sport, but more than that,” she said. “I’ve seen athletes blossom socially, build their self-esteem and learn good sportsmanship through Special Olympics. We are very grateful to have this program at our school!”

The McCutcheon Elementary Special Olympics team are currently training for a new sport. They will participate in softball skills this June in Chicago.

By Alexandra McMillin, Manager of Communications