11 Illinois Athletes Nominated to Special Olympics USA Team

Among Athletes Expected to Represent U.S. at 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games

NORMAL, Ill. – Special Olympics Illinois is proud to announce that 11 athletes have been nominated as athletes and alternates to Special SOWWGA17_Logo_HorizontalOlympics USA. The USA national team will represent the United States at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games being held March 14-25, 2017, in Austria.

The following athletes have been nominated to represent Illinois at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games:

Cross-Country Skiing:

  • Lisa Menichino of Bartlett, competes through Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association
  • Alternate Julie Hilger of Oswego, competes through Kendall County Comets

Speed Skating:

  • Thomas Shimoda II of Chicago, competes through Mt. Greenwood Park
  • Alternate Seth Schultz of Princeton, competes through Gators Sports


  • Danielle Lanxon of Belleville, competes through PTOEC
  • Jamiah Shepard of South Holland, competes through Thornwood High School
  • James Wireman of Washington, competes through Tri-County Independents
  • Alternate Colleen Costello of Millstadt, competes through PTOEC
  • Alternate Robert Wade of Chicago, competes through Gage Park

Alpine Skiing: 

  • Steve McVoy of Arlington Heights, competes through Northwest Special Recreation Association
  • Alternate Miguel Morales of Chicago, competes through Kosciuszko Park

The nominated Illinois athletes and alternates will attend a Special Olympics USA training camp in Killington, Vt., in December 2016 or January 2017 during which they will be evaluated for final acceptance for the national team.

Every two years, the world transcends the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion to come together for Special Olympics World Games. Alternating between summer and winter Games, this event is the flagship event of the Special Olympics movement, which promotes equality, tolerance and acceptance through the power and joy of sport. This prominent world stage brings attention to the Special Olympics movement and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Currently, more than 4.5 million Special Olympics athletes train and compete year-round in 170 nations across the globe.

More than 3,000 athletes from 110 nations will compete in 9 Olympic-type sports at the 2017 World Winter Games: figure skating, speed skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, floorball and stick shooting. An anticipated 3,000 volunteers, 5,000 family members/friends, 1,000 media representatives and 1,200 MVP-fans are expected to attend the 2017 Special Olympics World Games in Graz, Schladming and Styria, Austria.

About Special Olympics Illinois

Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 19 sports for more than 22,000 traditional athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 20,000 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support. If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562.

Media Contacts:

Michele Evans, Special Olympics Illinois, 309-888-2573
Alexandra McMillin, Special Olympics Illinois, 630-942-5621