Area News – March 2016


Area 2

You Raise Me Up Concert an Uplifting Experience

You Raise Me Up Concert Finale - 2014AJoin Special Olympics Illinois Far West Suburban/Area 2 for the 7th Annual “You Raise Me Up” benefit concert at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at College Church in Wheaton.  This year’s concert will feature the talents of The STARS of College Church, Clear Confusion, Late Night Blues, BEYOND GLEE and The Village Vocal Chords. Additionally, local Special Olympics athletes will share their personal experiences.

Tickets are $10 each (5 for $40), and are available here. 100 percent of ticket revenue will benefit Special Olympics Illinois Far West Suburban/Area 2 serving athletes with intellectual disabilities in the suburbs in west DuPage, Kane and Kendall County. Read More

Area 3

Interior Investments Hosts 10th Annual Aeron Hockey Tournament


These might be the best two words to describe the 10th Annual Aeron Hockey tournament.  Hosted by Interior Investments located in Lincolnshire, this unique and fun tournament welcomed 32 teams from throughout the Chicagoland area to compete in a chair hockey tournament.

ChairHockeyPhoto II 2016Interior Investments Principals Mike Greenberg and Don Shannon welcomed more than 1,000 guests to the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on Feb. 25. Greenberg and Shannon invited Bill Braasch, a Special Olympics athlete from Chicago, and Kathy McLaughlin, Director of Development, to the stage to announce a contribution of $50,000 earned at the tournament. The donation included event proceeds as well as additional contributions from Cannon Design and ESD.  Participating teams represented the architectural and design community and commercial real estate firms eager to take the winner’s trophy home. Tournament winners were Golub & Company.

“It is exhilarating to watch the frantic competition at this tournament,” stated Kathy McLaughlin. “But I realize that as much fun as it must be to compete in the Aeron Chair Hockey tournament or enjoy as a spectator, the planning, effort and organization to host such a huge event must be tremendous.”

“Special Olympics Illinois is so grateful for the outstanding partnership with Interior Investments,” said Dave Breen, President & CEO of Special Olympics Illinois. “Mike and Don and their entire company should be thanked for their tremendous support over the past nine years.  They have shared more than $300,000 with Special Olympics Illinois since the relationship began and we couldn’t be more grateful. Special Olympics athletes lead the way for inspiration as we see their successes and achievements, but none of this can happen without companies like Interior Investments sharing leadership, resources and advocacy.”

Dancing With the Brokers … Cha, Cha, Cha

Are you familiar with the entertaining television program, “Dancing with the Stars?” Whether you are a fan or not, you will want to follow Dancing with the Brokers (DWTB), sponsored by the Box It Foundation. DWTB will feature local real estate and construction CarolineDancingprofessionals in the ultimate dance competition on May 26. This inaugural competition features Caroline Colnon, a member of the Special Olympics Illinois Leader Council. Colnon is Leasing Director for The Telos Group.

Every two weeks, Colnon and her competitors will create a new dance with their professional dance partners which can be viewed on the competition website. Viewers can vote for their favorite dance by purchasing a voting license through the website and placing one vote during each round of videos. Each vote is $25 and all proceeds from voting will benefit the charity selected by the amateur dancer. Colnon selected Special Olympics Illinois as the recipient of contributions earned through voting on her behalf.

Be sure to vote for Caroline Colnon to keep her in this fun race! We look forward to Colnon’s success and are eager for her to compete in the final dance competitions on May 26 at the House of Blues Chicago.

Thank You to Illinois Gymnastics Institute

Started in 1979 by Todd Gardiner, the Illinois Gymnastics Institute (IGI) has grown to be among the most respected training programs in the country.  Now located in Westmont, IGI offers a safe and fun training environment for children of all ages. Offering outstanding coaching and training opportunities, more than 98 percent of all IGI graduates have received full tuition scholarships for gymnastics.

IGIPhoto1IGI offers phenomenal opportunities for the gymnastics community and their support of Special Olympics Illinois is a wonderful partnership. 2016 is the 18th year of the “Chicago Style” gymnastics meet hosted by IGI. Recognized as the largest women’s gymnastics meet in the country, this meet is held at Navy Pier and more than 1,000 girls compete.  The 2016 meet was held on Feb. 12-14.

For the past 12 years, Gardiner and the IGI Parents Booster Club have invited six Special Olympics Illinois gymnasts to perform at Navy Pier in front of Chicago Style audiences. The opportunity is a thrill for the athletes, and we are told equally thrilling for their very enthusiastic audience. It also familiarizes Special Olympics to a large audience which perhaps isn’t very familiar with the abilities of Special Olympics athletes.

In addition to the performance invitation, the conference donates all proceeds from a very impressive gift basket raffle to Special Olympics Illinois.  The donation has totaled more than $60,000 since the partnership began.

Special Olympics Illinois is extremely grateful to Gardiner and the IGI Parents Booster Club for the exciting opportunity shared with Special Olympics athletes each year. We all embrace inclusion whenever we can and certainly the invitation for athletes to demonstrate their abilities in front of a Navy Pier audience is a great example of that.

Special Olympics Illinois is also grateful to the Special Olympics supporters who volunteered throughout the weekend. More than 60 students from Chicago high schools volunteered as gym assistants and an additional 10 volunteers assisted at the raffle table.

Area 4

Help Western/Area 4 Win $25,000 from Isle of Capri Casino

You can help Special Olympics Illinois Western/Area 4 win $25,000 for the athletes through the Community Aces Challenge! It’s easy. Click here to vote. You can vote once per day during the contest, which runs until noon on April 1, 2016.

CA-Challenge-II_web_300dpiSpecial Olympics is a global organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sport, every day around the world. Through programming in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics is changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities solving the global injustice, isolation, intolerance and inactivity they face. Special Olympics Illinois provides opportunities for more than 22,000 athletes, 40,000 volunteers and thousands more people statewide through 18 Area programs in all 102 counties of the state. Locally Area 4 serves more than 700 athletes with intellectual disabilities in Rock Island, Mercer, Knox, Warren, Fulton, Henderson and McDonough counties.

Thank you to Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf, Iowa for the opportunity!

Area 9

Effingham County Lightning Shine at State Basketball

EffinghamCoLightning2The Effingham County Lightning Special Olympics team has been participating in team basketball for the past six years. Prior to that time, the Effingham County Lightning athletes had participated in three individual sports – snowshoeing, athletics (track and field) and bowling.

When current head coach Diana Ludwig and Sue Zakutansky became involved as coaches for the team, they took a second look at basketball as a team sport. “I was most interested in the idea of playing on a team where they would have to rely on each other to play the game,” said Zakutansky, head basketball coach for team and skills.

In 2015, the Effingham County Lightning was fortunate to have enough players for two basketball teams and a skills team, yet both teams struggled to win games at the district competition. “It took us two years to even win a game and three years to win a game at district,” said Zakutansky. But this year, the team had fire! At the District H Basketball Tournament on Jan. 31 in Trenton, the Effingham County Lightning team won both of its games and earned the title of Senior Division I District Champions. Read More

Read the latest news on East Central/Area 9 in the March newsletter.

Area 12

McKendree University Basketball Day

2016McKendreeBBallDay-BD5602On Saturday, Feb. 15, McKendree University hosted 95 Special Olympics athletes and their families at a Special Olympics Illinois Day. Players from the Clinton County Cats and PTOEC starred in scrimmages held at the halftimes of both the McKendree men’s and the women’s basketball games. Each athlete attending the day received a T-shirt and a mini basketball from McKendree University. The McKendree players also greeted and signed autographs for the Special Olympics athletes.

View photos from McKendree event.