Area News – September 2015


Areas 2, 3, 5, 13, 16

Pumpkin Pedal Rides to New Starting, Ending Location

Calling all bike enthusiasts! Special Olympics Illinois gearing up for its 24th Annual Pumpkin Pedal Bike Tour on Sunday, Oct. 4. This is a wonderful ride for both families and serious riders! Bicyclists can choose to ride 10-, 20- or 26-mile routes on the Great Western Trail or a 40- or 62-mile road ride.

2014PumpkinPedal-ME4226This year, all rides will begin and end at the Sycamore Speedway in Maple Park. This new location will take riders away from heavy traffic areas. Riders will enjoy scenic, rural Kane County’s beautiful fall landscape as they complete their trek. Rest stops are provided throughout the route to give riders a chance to enjoy light refreshments. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and bicyclists may start any time between 7:45 and 10 a.m. All routes will be cleared at 3 p.m.

Special Olympics Illinois athlete Dan James will help whip up a delicious post-ride meal at Sycamore Speedway from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A vegetarian option will be available.

Why bike? Event proceeds will support year-round training for Special Olympics Illinois athletes with intellectual disabilities. To learn more, please click here.


Get the latest news from Far West Suburban/Area 2 in the Spring/Summer newsletter.

Area 3

27th Annual Oyster Fest Block Party

Special Olympics Illinois supporters enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer at the 27th Annual Oyster Fest Block Party hosted by Shaw’s Crab House.

oysterfest_logo_2015This outdoor, one-day festival served delicious fare throughout the evening including oysters from around the county.  Performances by St. Lucia, Photocomfort and DJ Jerzy entertained guests who were also entertained by the “Nation’s Largest Cash Prize Oyster Shucking Contest.”  The Block Party was held on Sept. 11 on the corner of Rush & Hubbard Streets in Chicago.

Lettuce Entertain You organized the festival and shared all tips given throughout the evening with Special Olympics in addition to restaurant gift cards valued at more than $3,000.

“We are so thrilled to be involved with anything that Lettuce Entertain You hosts,” said Kathy McLaughlin, Special Olympics Illinois Director of Development. “The evening was awesome – from start to finish.  We are delighted that 45 volunteers helped at this fun festival and grateful for their continued support and hard work.”

Live To Support Chicago 

Who doesn’t love an opportunity to partner with a community organization interested in supporting Special Olympics Illinois?

Since 2010, Live To Support Chicago (LTS) has built a new type of social sports community of more than 6,000 players. As Chicago’s only charity-driven sports league, LTS provides young professionals with the opportunity to play in adult recreational sports leagues, tournaments and attend events for the charities they believe in, including Special Olympics Illinois.

The Special Olympics Illinois Young Professionals Board promotes participation among their membership and has teams who have participated in many LTS sports including volleyball, dodgeball, flag-football and kickball. LTS donated $350 to SOILL Chicago in 2015 to support Area 3 athletes and competitions.

The Young Professionals Board is looking forward to another season of friendly, fun competition with LTS fall leagues!

Area 7

This fall marks an exciting new chapter for Thornwood High School. For the first time, the school sent golfers to compete at the state level at the 2015 Special Olympics Illinois Outdoor Sports Festival in Decatur.

Marcy and Adrian

Marcy Mayes and Adrian Johnson

Marcy Mayes, a senior, was one of the golfers representing Thornwood High School, competing in individual skills. She has been involved with Special Olympics at Thornwood since her freshman year and in that time Marcy has participated in several activities at the high school including cheerleading and bocce. She’s competed in state for both athletics and bowling, and is excited to add golf to that list.

Adrian Johnson is a senior and has also been involved with Thornwood Special Olympics since his freshman year. Previously, he’s competed in athletics and bowling, and will also represent Thornwood in individual golf skills. In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Adrian also excels in art. He currently studies ceramics and painting.

Area 9

Coach Picks Up the Bag When Father Unable to Caddy for Son

Brian Trickett of Lawrenceville competed in golf at the Special Olympics Outdoor Sports Festival in Decatur, but this year something is missing. This year was the first time Brian’s father was unable to be his caddy.  Brian has had his father, Jeff Trickett, as his coach and caddy for 16 years. Due to some health complications, Jeff was unable to accompany his son on the course this year.

Brian Trickett and Janice Zwilling

Brian Trickett and Janice Zwilling

The first person to step up as caddy was Janice Zwilling, the head coach at Lawrence/Crawford Association for Exceptional Citizens (L/CAEC) where Brian participates in Special Olympics. Janice has been a coach with Special Olympics since 1999, starting out as an L/CAEC assistant coach and becoming head coach in 2013.

This is the first time Janice has caddied for an athlete. Janice and Brian try to practice once a week for the upcoming event. They play nine holes at every practice. Read More


Get the latest news from East Central/Area 9 in the September newsletter.

Area 15

8,000 Duckies Race for the Finish Line at DuQuoin State Fair

Eight thousand rubber duckies swam for the finish line on Sept. 6 at the Southern Illinois Ducky Derby Dash at the DuQuoin State Fair. The inaugural event raised about $40,000 for Special Olympics in Southern Illinois.

Duck Ambassador and Special Olympics athlete John Henley of Marion accompanied Gov. Bruce Rauner in a boat as the governor dropped the flag to signal the start of the race. A cascade of duckies flowed from a dump truck into a pond behind the fair’s Expo Hall and began swimming for the finish line. Area 15 volunteers Bill Asbury and Billy Mathis created the pump and jet spray system that helped move the ducks along their route.

“We were thrilled to sell all of the 8,000 ducks we had on hand and think that we could sell twice that many next year now that people have experienced the Ducky Derby Dash in Southern Illinois,” said Area Director Paul Melzer. Read More

Area 16

Oglesby Athlete to be Featured at Inspire Greatness Gala


Kelli Ewbank displays her gold medal for the cameras at Summer Games

The 2015 Inspire Greatness Gala, Oct. 24 at the Four Seasons Chicago, promises to be an exciting evening of dinner, dancing and a spectacular live and silent auction. Guests will have an opportunity to hear from Kelli Ewbank, the featured Special Olympics Illinois athlete of the evening.

Kelli, 25, of Oglesby has participated in the program since 2006 and she competes in aquatics, bocce, athletics, bowling and basketball. She became a Global Messenger in 2011 and has spoken at several large events in her community including the Yorkville Polar Plunge. Outside of Special Olympics, she assists with swim lessons at the Illinois Valley YMCA.

Kelli enjoys the social component of Special Olympics as well as the competition – some of her favorite memories involve her friends and teammates. Read More