By Dave Breen, President & CEO
Many times I am asked “What makes Special Olympics so special?” The easy answer is the athletes of Special Olympics and their can-do attitude, courage, determination and sportsmanship.
As you look deeper, it is also everyone else who supports them and the organization. What we witnessed on May 29 at nearly 200 locations around the state offered up a glimpse of why it is SO special.
On June 12, the Law Enforcement Torch Run wrote a check for $4 million as their commitment to 2015 funding for Special Olympics Illinois. Leading up to that monumental financial commitment, legions of law enforcement members were at 194 Dunkin’ Donuts for the Cop on Rooftop fundraiser. The commitment and dedication of ALL the officers was tremendous as they worked for 9 hours sitting on roofs, waving down cars, working the drive-thrus – all as Guardians of the Flame of Hope for the 22,000 athletes and 21,000 Young Athletes of SOILL.
Many of the Torch Run members are parents, family members, volunteers and lifelong friends. The real exciting part was not – believe it or not – the $530,000 they raised, but was the way communities came together. Athletes came out to cheer on the officers, while families stopped by to donate and say thanks. Community leaders such as mayors, Bill Wennington, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and radio personalities like Kathy Hart of the Mix and Lisa Dent and Ramblin’ Ray of US99 converged on the Dunkin’ Donuts locations which have become extended Special Olympics family members.
This community support was especially evident in social media that day. In a medium that often features people catching people doing the wrong thing, law enforcement led the way on May 29 by catching everyone in Illinois doing the right thing! On social media, people were doing great things, talking, laughing, and sharing stories.
Thank you to the Law Enforcement Torch Run for bringing the community together for Special Olympics Illinois!