Area News – September 2014


Areas 2, 3, 5, 13 & 16

Pumpkin Pedal

Join the fun of the Pumpkin Pedal on Sunday, Oct. 5! This year’s 10-, 20- & 28-mile trail rides will be entirely on the Great Western Trail. The 40- & 65-mile road rides will be on roads but will utilize the same rest stops as the trail ride. They will all begin and end at Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve on Dean Street just west of Randall Road in St. Charles. This is a wonderful ride for families and serious riders.

If you pre-register to ride with 5 or more team riders, you will all receive long-sleeved T-shirts. When registering you must choose the team rider ticket option and include the team’s name. Without the team name on your registration, we won’t know you are a team rider and you won’t receive a long-sleeved T-shirt.

The start and finish for all the distances is Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and riders may start anytime between 7:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. The course will be cleared at 3 p.m. This event will take place rain or shine. If cancellation of the event is warranted due to dangerous weather conditions, announcements will be made event day at the event site. A post-ride meal will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A vegetarian option will be available.

For more information, contact Sandy Hutchins at 630-377-7250 or register here.

Area 2

 Global Messenger Introduces Gov. Quinn at Brookfield Zoo 

Zinyra Ross introduces Gov. Pat Quinn at the Brookfield Zoo

Zinyra Ross introduces Gov. Pat Quinn at the Brookfield Zoo

Special Olympics athlete and Global Messenger Zinyra Ross of Aurora introduced Gov. Pat Quinn at a Brookfield Zoo press conference recently where he announced a $1 million investment for improvements designed for adults and children with disabilities.

Zinyra is employed part-time at Brookfield Zoo, working the animal exhibits and children’s play zoo. She was proud to speak on behalf of Brookfield Zoo for people with disabilities.

Zinyra spoke about her life’s journey that included her speech and language disability and how a specialist told her mother than she would never talk. With excitement in her voice, Zinyra told the Brookfield audience “as you can see, I found my voice.”

She proudly spoke about being a Special Olympics athlete at Waubonsie Valley High School and becoming a Global Messenger. Zinyra spoke of being active in Best Buddies, becoming the director at WVHS and being a Best Buddies Illinois Ambassador. Read More

Area 3

The Big Windy

Our friends at Stand Up For Downs are partnering with Special Olympics Illinois for The Big Windy, an incredibly entertaining night of comedy, food, drinks, silent auction and dueling pianos on Saturday, Sept. 27 at Fitz’s Spare Keys in Elmhurst.

Headlining the night will be Matt Braunger (cast of Mad TV and NBC’s Up All Night, Letterman, Conan and others). Chicago’s own Pat McGann also will perform and both are guaranteed to have guests laughing throughout the evening. Rob Snow, founder of Stand Up for Downs, organized the event which will include an impressive silent auction for guests to bid on.


The 8th annual NELARUSKY concert was held on July 30 to raise funds for Special Olympics Illinois. The concert was an official Lollapalooza aftershow attended by hundreds of fans.

Twin Shadow performs at NELARUSKY8

Twin Shadow performs at NELARUSKY8

Event organizer Lauren McClusky worked with a committee for months in advance of the fundraiser. The concert featured performances by Dominican-born, Los Angeles-based new wave/chill wave/synth pop artist Twin Shadow; electronic musicians Sylvan Esso; and Chicago based indie rock band Santah. The event earned more than $40,000!

Young entrepreneur Lauren McClusky has been in charge of NELARUSKY for eight consecutive years and kicked off her first benefit concert as a high school student. Special Olympics Illinois Global Messengers Christine Maxwell and Barbara Kozdron spoke from the stage thanking the audience for their support.

Sponsors included: KPMG. Sterling Partners, Q101.1, Inner Workings, JIRA, Laurus Strategies, Premier Foundation, the William & Mary Ann McGrath Foundation, Bluewater Music Services Corporation, the Foster Family Trust, the CSIG Foundation, The Windish Agency, KIND, Ocean Tomo, Lance Rodgers, JMA Productions, Hertz Lichtenstein & Young, Premier Foundation, Republic Records, Red Light Management, Audiotree, Cozzini Group, Jeff McClusky, Brad Schmarak, Steve Bartels, Scully Family, Stephan Muzrall, Skip Weller, Bruns Family, Goldman Family, Andrew & Marcia Rice, Mike Allen, Artists & Brands, Jim Peterik, HUB 51, Innerworkings, Revolution Brewery, Lagunitas Brewery and David’s Tea.

Kathy McLaughlin, Development Director for Special Olympics Illinois, attended the event and commented on the enthusiasm enjoyed throughout the evening. “The concert is a great evening of entertainment for everyone in the audience. It also provides an opportunity to share the message of Special Olympics with hundreds of young people. Lauren and her team work incredibly hard for months to make the benefit a success and it shows from the minute guests walk through the door. We have tremendous gratitude for her energy, ideas and kindness on behalf of Special Olympics athletes.”

Area 9

Taste of Something Special

Interested in an evening of music and food while sampling different wines and beer along with bidding on fantastic items? Join us for the 5th Annual Taste of Something Special, a wine-tasting and silent auction event benefit SOILL East Central/ Area 9. This event will be from 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, at The WalkWay in Mattoon.

Tickets are $15 per person in advance or $20 at the door. If you purchase your tickets in advance, they can be redeemed at the door for a free wine glass or 16 oz. beer glass. Cash bar will be available. Attendees may also purchase the wines and spirts available for tasting that evening from the WalkWay and leave with those purchases in hand.

To purchase tickets in advance, contact Vanessa Duncan at 217-345-2424 or email You may also even stop by MMAS Dairy Queen, 320 N. 19th St., Mattoon.

Area 11

Athletes 4 Athletes

Heather Davis, Area Director of West Central/Area 11, hopes that with a little help from members at QTown Crossfit, she can start a movement of movement, all while raising awareness and money for Special Olympics through a workout fundraiser.

Crossfit4Davis approached Quincy’s Qtown Crossfit owner Katie Tappe about doing a fundraiser for Special Olympics even before she had the job. “She was in. Then Crossfit coaches Christine Williams, Mike Davis, Tim Bliefnick and Jason Coplan got involved and it took off from there,” said Davis. 

They formed a fundraising organization Athletes 4 Athletes (Crossfit athletes for Special Olympics athletes) to raise money for Special Olympics athletes by developing physical fitness through competitions. The group invited all Crossfitters to take part in a special workout of the day (WOD).

The inaugural event was held on Sept. 6 with more than 50 Crossfitters participating. Each Crossfitter worked to complete as many rounds as possible of the WOD in 7 minutes. The 3 movements – 19 deadlifts, 20 wallballs and 68 “double unders” – were designed to commemorate the first Special Olympics which took place on July 19-20, 1968. To date, the most rounds completed in the 7 minutes was done by Sam & Jenni Dancer, professional Crossfitters and owners of Qtown, who completed more than 4 rounds. Read More

Area 18

Corks for a Cause

Come support North Suburban Cook/Area 18 and enjoy tasting more than 40 wines from all over the world at the 3rdAnnual Corks for a Cause wine-tasting event.

The event will be from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Tuscan Market and Wine Shop in Arlington Heights. You’ll also have the chance to bid on some great silent auction items.

Tickets on sale through Eventbrite, so purchase yours today! Go to!