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Special Olympics Announces One-Year Countdown to 50th Anniversary Celebration in Chicago

by Jeremy Davidson.

Thursday, June 20th, at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the location of the first-ever Special Olympics Games, it was announced that Chicago will host the Special Olympics movement’s 50th Anniversary global celebration taking place July 17 – 22, 2018.

Chicago White Sox announcer, Jason Benetti, served as emcee for the press conference. Speakers included Mary Davis, Special Olympics International CEO, Justice Anne M. Burke, Dave Breen, President and CEO of Special Olympics Illinois, and more who announced the news.

Special Olympics athlete Scott Wilson, who competed at the 1968 Games, delivered an impassioned speech about what the movement has meant to him, then challenged the world to #ChoosetoInclude in 2018.

“The 50th Anniversary will be a pivotal moment for Special Olympics, as we aim to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities and as the leaders of inclusion through sport,” shared Mary Davis. “We have spent the past 50 years breaking down barriers for our athletes and creating opportunities through sport, but we still have much more work to do. For our 50th Anniversary, we are inviting all to join us as we shape a more accepting and inclusive future.”

Special Olympics International, Special Olympics Illinois and Special Children’s Charities have united to host nearly a week of exciting events to celebrate the past 50 years of Special Olympics and to launch the movement into the future.

“The torch that was lit here at Soldier Field 49 years ago today ignited a fire that will never die as long as we continue to celebrate the bravery of inspirational individuals – like Kevin O’Brien, Michael Cusack and others – who competed in 1968 and became examples, inspiring future Special Olympics athletes, here and around the world, to find the courage to enter the competition,” added Justice Burke.

Nelson Rodriguez, General Manager of the Chicago Fire, Former Chicago Bear, Tom Thayer, and Former White Sox Player, Ron Kittle, all leant their support to the press event.

Events planned for July 2018 in Chicago include the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Football (Soccer) Cup, a tournament of 24 men’s and women’s teams comprised of people with and without intellectual disabilities from countries around the globe.

Also planned is a star-studded concert, establishment of a Special Olympics Eternal Flame of Hope monument to symbolize the ongoing drive towards creating inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, and a Change the Game Day event where the public is welcome to play unified and join in fun athletic competition with Special Olympics athletes at Soldier Field.

Additionally, a traveling 50th Anniversary Museum which, throughout 2018, will traverse the State of Illinois, sharing the history of Special Olympics. The travelling museum will visit Special Olympics Illinois competitions along with high-profile state, county and municipal events, educating its public on the history of Special Olympics, its impact socially through sport, and invite people to come to Chicago in July 2018 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. The community is welcome to donate items and memories to the museum.

Special Olympics Illinois is thrilled that the movement will return home to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. Anyone interested in learning more can visit www.SpecialOlympics50.org.

Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All Stars

by Jeremy Davidson.

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 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).

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)

Team Bios

Athletes

Unified Partners

Supporting Documents

Chicago Corporate Cup Success

by Jeremy Davidson.

Playing on a sports team can be fun AND instructive! Just ask the folks from PwC, Baxter, Deloitte, Resolution Life and Accenture. Together with their host, Capital One and their CapAbilities Network, professionals from all of these companies recently got a “taste of” Unified Basketball with our athletes.

Each team was composed of three corporate and two SOILL athletes who played in a round robin Basketball tournament at DePaul’s Ray Meyer Fitness & Recreation Center. Capital One came out victorious in a nail-biter against last year’s tournament champion, Resolution Life Insurance, while Accenture earned the prize for highest fan attendance, “our teams and fans had a wonderful time!” says Accenture team captain, Brynne Miller.

The athletes had an equally fantastic time playing basketball and teaching their corporate teammates that determination, skill and good sportsmanship are universal. Live music, an impromptu dance party and the antics of the Sky Guy from the WNBA team, Chicago Sky, added to the festive atmosphere of an incredible friend-and-fundraiser.

The event was a true demonstration of what our athletes can do on and off the court and we are grateful to Jennafer Palumbo of Capital One for creating the opportunity for them to shine. Jenna confirms the philosophy of her company and the event, “We are thrilled to support the mission of the Chicago Corporate Cup, and hope to continue to support Special Olympics initiatives dedicated to promoting a more inclusive society, specifically as it relates to the workplace.”  Yes!

 

 

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!