Area News – July 2015


Area 2

Midwest Golf Celebrity Pro Am Tournament

Back row: L-R, Donn Pall, Gene Hiser, Eric Soderholm and Bill Campbell. Front row: L-R, Buzz Capra and Eddie Arroyo

Back row: L-R, Donn Pall, Gene Hiser, Eric Soderholm and Bill Campbell. Front row: L-R, Buzz Capra and Eddie Arroyo

2015 Midwest Golf Celebrity Pro Am celebrated its 25 anniversary raising money for SOILL Far West Suburban/Area 2 on Monday, June 22. Despite the rainy start, 20 foursomes and celebrity captains were able to get in 9 holes of golf at the beautiful Royal Fox Golf Course in St. Charles.

Thank you to the celebrities who participated: Eddie Arroyo, Chris Babyar, Jeff Blanzy, Bill Campbell, Buzz Capra, Robin Earl, Carlton Fisk, Ike Hill, Gene Hiser, Steve Kashul, Bill Leagans, Brent Novoselsky, Rich Nye, Donn Pall, Paul Popovich, Jim Schwantz, Eric Soderholm and Al Weis.

The event raised more than $45,000 for Area 2. This was the 25th year this tournament raised funds for Special Olympics. The 2016 outing is tentatively scheduled for June 20, 2016 at Royal Fox. View photos from event.

Longtime Area 2 Director Sandy Hutchins Retires

When Sandy Hutchins became an Area Director for Special Olympics, her Area office was one of only 3 in Illinois. A lot of has changed in the last 41 years – Illinois now has 18 Areas and a staff of about 75.

Area 2 Director Sandy Hutchins, center, speaks at the Midwest Golf Celebrity Pro Am

Area 2 Director Sandy Hutchins, center, speaks at the Midwest Golf Celebrity Pro Am

Sandy became involved in Special Olympics shortly after the first Games were held in Chicago in 1968. She and her husband, Bob, started coaching a team at the Association for Individual Development in Aurora, where both worked.

In 1974, she started the Area office, currently named Special Olympics Illinois Far West Suburban/Area 2. A strictly volunteer position, Sandy wore many hats and over the years cultivated key contacts in fundraising and volunteers. In addition, she formed long-standing relationships with celebrities, many of whom attended Sandy’s last event, the 2015 Midwest Golf Celebrity Pro Am on June 22. Read More

Area 3

Windy City Smokeout Combines BBQ & Country Music

Windy City Smokeout, the foremost BBQ and country music festival in the Midwest, returned to Chicago July 10-12 for the third annual festival.  And for the third year, festival organizers reached out to Special Olympics Illinois to share volunteers to help at the festival.

Chris Young performs at Windy City Smokeout

Chris Young performs at Windy City Smokeout

More than 35,000 festival attendees enjoyed a weekend of country music stars including Kacey Musgraves, Lee Brice, Chris Young and Chris Stapleton. The weekend-long event included BBQ from some of the best BBQ restaurants in the country including Dinosaur Bar-B-Que from Syracuse, N.Y., Hogapalooza from Little Rock, Ark., and The Salt Lick BBQ from Driftwood, Texas.

Hosted by Bub City in Chicago, Special Olympics Illinois demonstrated once again that SOILL volunteers are the BEST! More than 200 volunteers came from throughout the Special Olympics family to help at food and beverage tents throughout the weekend.  Festival organizers will donate tips shared throughout the weekend with Special Olympics Illinois (amount unknown at press time) as well as gift cards valued at more than $12,000 to Chicago area Lettuce Entertain You restaurants.

“The Windy City Smokeout is an incredible weekend of great music, and outstanding food,” said Kathy McLaughlin, Director of Development, who coordinated SOILL participation with organizers of the Windy City Smokeout. “Our involvement was another example of the tremendous volunteers we are privileged to work with. I know the volunteers had a great time at the festival and were encouraged to enjoy the music and food before or after their volunteer shifts.”

The festival is another example of the many ways the Special Olympics “family” shares their time on behalf of the athletes. Special Olympics Illinois is extremely grateful to our invaluable volunteers, Bub City and Lettuce Entertain You.

Area 9

Country Star Jo Dee Messina Recognizes Athlete of the Year

An amazing character trait of Country Music Superstar Jo Dee Messina is just how down-to-earth and genuine she is, even in the limelight of being the first female to have three hit singles from the same album and having sold over 5 million of her records worldwide. Jo Dee’s magnetic personality and caring nature was more than evident as she sat down to meet with the 2015 Special Olympics Illinois Athlete of the Year Brooke Ingram on July 3 before performing at Charleston’s Red, White and Blue Days.

Brooke Ingram meets Jo Dee Messina at Charleston's Red, White and Blue Days.

Brooke Ingram meets Jo Dee Messina at Charleston’s Red, White and Blue Days.

For Brooke and her family, not sure of what to expect, the encounter was exceptional, as Jo Dee spent more than 20 minutes talking with Brooke. Jo Dee asked Brooke about her Special Olympics experiences, favorite interests and summer plans. Although a little star-struck at times, Brooke happily shared her thoughts and feelings about being honored as the Special Olympics Illinois Athlete of the Year.

When asked about how she became involved with Special Olympics, Jo Dee smiled and explained, “I was just driving outside of Nashville one day and saw the Special Olympics event signs along the road, so I started to follow.  When I finally came to the event, they needed volunteers for the day, so I got involved.” Jo Dee became an official Special Olympics ambassador in 2004, and has provided support to the Special Olympics athletes, including sending well-wishes to the 2007 World Games Special Olympics Team and pitching in a Team USA Celebrity Softball Game.

Jo Dee’s dedication of time and undivided attention to Brooke was another illustration of her ability to make a difference in the lives of others. Thank you, Jo Dee Messina!

Area 10

Athlete’s Sister Facilitates Auto Zone Donation

Thanks to Hope Trimmer, SOILL Central/Area 10 has received a $1,000 donation from Auto Zone!

Auto Zone Check Presentation 2

Special Olympics athlete Angel Larson, center, accepts Auto Zone donation with her sister, Hope Trimmer, center right, and Central/Area 10 Director Joanie Keys, center left.

An Auto Zone employee and sister of a Special Olympics athlete, Hope nominated Central/Area 10 for a donation from Auto Zone’s Central Region. She requested the money be donated to the Area on behalf of her sister, Angel Larson, a long-time participant with the Dream Catchers team of Decatur. Hope currently works at the Clinton Auto Zone store and previously worked at an Auto Zone in Decatur. Area 10 was chosen from several nominees throughout the Central Region to receive the $1,000 donation. Hope, Angel and the management team from the Decatur Auto Zone and St. Louis offices were present for the check presentation.

Bill Boys, Coach of Dream Catches, Receives Spirit Award

Bill Boys

Bill Boys

Congratulations to Bill Boys, head coach and SOAD for the Dream Catchers team of Decatur! Boys was awarded the Jennifer Song Spirit Award on July 7.

The award is given to a Macon County resident who exhibits enthusiasm, integrity and perseverance beyond the ordinary to help children in the community develop their dreams through selfless giving – be it talent, money or time. Boys was unanimously selected by the award committee, which was extremely impressed by the five letters of recommendation that accompanied the nomination! SOILL Central/Area 10 will receive a $2,000 donation in honor of Boys’ accomplishment. View video of Boys accepting the award.

Area 11

RowRaiser a Marathon of Pulling for Area 11

On a hot and muggy Saturday, July 11, teams turned out to the Quincy CVS parking lot for a Row Raiser – a fundraiser where teams of 10 worked on rowing machines to complete a marathon of 26.2 miles and raise money for SOILL West Central/Area 11.

CrossFitRowRaiserFifteen teams competed in the unique event, with the Quincy Fire Department’s “Team Stop, Drop and Row” finishing in under 2.5 hours. About 300 people attended the event.

Awards of engraved wooden oars were given in the following categories: Fastest Team Time, Most Creative Team Name, Most Spirited Team, Compassion Award (for team who traveled the farthest) and Sunken Boat Award (for team who came in last or quit).

Two teams of Competitive Crossfitters participated along with Area 11 Special Olympics athletes and family members. Qtown CrossFit owner Sam Dancer invited athletes and families out to gym once a week for a month before the event to teach them how to row. Read story on Dancer’s involvement with Special Olympics athletes.

Radio station Y101 broadcast the event live, Hyvee sold BBQ, a DJ provided music, a chiropractor offered services. The local roller derby team, Dark River Derby, skated around and collected change from spectators.

Miss Quincy’s Advocacy Platform Near and Dear to Her Heart

Montanna and Brady Neisen

Montanna and Brady Neisen

Montanna Neisen, 20, was named Miss Quincy 2015 in March and since then she taken the  opportunity to make a difference and advocate for Special Olympics. Montanna knows the importance of Special Olympics firsthand – her brother Brady, 16, is an athlete.

Montanna and Brady’s involvement with Special Olympics began five years ago when  Brady, who has Down syndrome, started competing with Adams County Special Recreation in Quincy. His involvement as a basketball athlete motivated Montanna to do more than cheering for her brother from the stands.

“Our relationship has grown stronger because of Special Olympics,” says Montanna. “I try my best to make it to all his practices and games whenever I can. He was always at my sporting events, so it’s my turn to return the favor and cheer him on when he participates. We have formed a much stronger bond (through Special Olympics) because we can  talk about the sporting events and even practice at home,” she continues.Montanna and Brady’s involvement with Special Olympics began five years ago when  Brady, who has Down syndrome, started competing with Adams County Special Recreation in Quincy. His involvement as a basketball athlete motivated Montanna to do more than cheering for her brother from the stands. Read More 

Area 15

Area 15 Newsletter Available

Get the latest news from Southern/Area 15 in the July newsletter.

Area 17

Virden Athlete Recognized for Attitude, Achievement

Reese Steele’s hard work during his five years of being part of the Auburn Area Special Olympics team has paid off.

On May 3, Reese, 15, a resident of Virden and sophomore at North Mac High School, was named Athlete of the Year for the Area 17 Special Olympics group during the Area 17 Spring Games, which were held in Chatham. Reese was recognized during the Spring Games and received a plaque to commemorate the achievement. Read More at Springfield Journal Register site