Area News – April 2016

Chicagoland Areas

Career Training – Enrollment Open

Are you, your child or a loved one struggling to get a job – or even an interview?

Aspire, a local leader in providing bold and uncompromising services to kids and adults with disabilities and their families across Chicagoland, is seeking candidates for Aspire CareerLink.

Aspire CareerLink is an innovative job training opportunity that provides adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and acquired disabilities, ages 18 and up, with the opportunity to receive intensive job training in the retail and warehouse distribution industries. Details:

  • Ten-week training program, meets 2-3 days/week
  • Specialized curriculum focusing on soft and hard skills
  • Individualized and group instruction in classrooms and in hands-on work environments that replicate the real-world
  • Inclusive training with industry partners
  • Ends with a two-week job internship at one of Aspire’s employment partners

More than 90 percent of Aspire CareerLink graduates have secured employment.

Groups are limited in size and are being formed on an ongoing basis. To apply for this exceptional training opportunity or to learn about trial sessions, contact Karen Phillips at 708-547-3560, ext. 3571. View flyer.

Area 3

Chicago Motor Activities Challenge Day

On March 24, more than 280 Special Olympics athletes from across the city of Chicago gathered at DeLaSalle High School to participate in a Motor Activities Challenge Day.

2016ChicagoMATP-KM5871The Special Olympics Motor Activities Training Program (MATP) is a motor and sport training program designed to meet the unique needs of those persons with profound disabilities who do not yet possess the physical and/or behavioral skills necessary to compete in official Special Olympics sports.  MATP has been developed based on the belief that all persons can participate in sport training at some level, and that sport participation is beneficial and can facilitate appropriate physical and social skills necessary to bring interaction with nondisabled peers in community settings. MATP emphasizes training and participation rather than competition and provides a way for persons with severe disabilities to participate in appropriate recreation activities geared to their ability levels.

Chicago athletes were able to test their skills at a variety of sporting activities including golf, powerlifting, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, athletics, tennis, volleyball and softball. All athletes received a challenge day medal and got to take pictures in a photo booth. More than 100 volunteer students from DeLaSalle High School supported these athletes and their energy and enthusiasm made this day beyond special for the participating athletes. View photos from event.

Thanks to GE, funds were provided to support the event and helped to provide unique equipment for each sporting station. Some of the equipment included a large putting green, enlarged Velcro target, balance stones and agility ladders. Coaches were excited to see the new equipment and commented, “Loved the activities. The equipment was great and the volunteers are awesome!”

Special Olympics is very thankful to DeLaSalle for its generosity and continued support of the Motor Activities Program and to GE for helping make this day extra special for the athletes. Coaches are eager for next year, saying “Just keep doing it, we love Motor Activities!”

Area 5

Kelly’s Hollywood Movie Premiere

Mark your calendars for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 30, for the Chicago premiere of “Kelly’s Hollywood” at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove.

KellysHollywoodIn this documentary movie, a brother’s quest to fulfill his sister’s dream of becoming a Hollywood diva takes an unexpected turn when it starts to threaten his engagement. Brian, an aspiring actor, leaves his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., in the hopes of making it big in Los Angeles. As the years pass, he misses his loving sister Kelly, who he left behind. Kelly, who has Down syndrome and still lives at home with their parents, wants to follow in her big brother’s footsteps, but is relegated to assembly line work and performing in her bedroom. To put an end to Kelly’s frustrations and to fill the absence of her in his life, Brian brings Kelly to Hollywood every winter to share in the dream. As Brian makes Kelly’s dreams a reality, his romantic relationships suffer as Kelly becomes increasingly jealous of his girlfriend. Faced with boundary ultimatums from his girlfriend and health complications of Kelly’s, Brian works to find balance between the two. But when Kelly’s health plummets, Brian desperately tries to fulfill her last wish of performing in front of a live audience. Will her wish become a reality? And will Brian’s own dream of marrying survive?

There will be a Q&A immediately following with director Brian Donovan. Admission is $5 and proceeds will benefit Special Chronicles, SEASPAR, Special Olympics Illinois, Community High School District 99 and Community Unit School District 201. If you’re unable to attend and would like to help support this event, click here.

Area 7

Love in the Air – Couple Engaged at Manteno Polar Plunge

Brad Hommes asked Steffani Vizdal to marry him at the Manteno Polar Plunge
Brad Hommes asked Steffani Vizdal to marry him at the Manteno Polar Plunge

Love was certainly in the cold air this Polar Plunge season – but particularly so at the Manteno Polar Plunge. For the first time in 17 years of Plunges in Illinois, a couple agreed to take the metaphorical plunge before they ran into the icy waters of the Manteno Sportsmen’s Club.

As Steffani Vizdal lined up with her team – Team Baymax – her boyfriend, Brad Hommes, knelt in the sand and popped the question.

Steffani first got involved in Special Olympics through South Suburban Special Recreation Association, where she has worked for the past nine years. When she’s not working at Special Olympics, Steffani works at a hospital in Chicago in the emergency services department. Brad works for a specialty golf club company in Tinley Park.

The couple share so many passions, but they take the most pride in is working with the Special Olympics. She met her now fiancé three years ago and they did their first Plunge together last year in Manteno. Read More

Area 9

SOILL East Central/Area 9 Honors LETR Fundraiser of the Year

Ruth Rhodes gets a foot massage after the 2016 Lake Sara Dam Run
Ruth Rhodes gets a foot massage after the 2016 Lake Sara Dam Run

Many people in Effingham County know the name Ruth Rhodes because of her years of dedicated employment to the law enforcement community. Yet, some may not be aware of just how much time, effort and support Rhodes provides to Special Olympics Illinois athletes.

Rhodes, a civilian employee for the Illinois State Police until 2013 and currently on staff at Illinois Department of Transportation, was one of the founders of the Lake Sara Dam Run and is currently coordinator of the event. She worked tirelessly to ensure the Lake Sara Dam Run’s success.

To honor Rhodes’ years of service in fundraising for the athletes of Area 9, she will be awarded with the first Area 9 Law Enforcement Fundraiser of the Year award at the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Area 9 Spring Games on Friday, April 22, at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium. The Opening Ceremony starts at 9 a.m. and fans of Special Olympics Illinois are welcome to fill the stands to recognize Ruth Rhodes for her achievements and support the Area 9 athletes as they compete in the annual athletics meet. Read More

Area 18

Global Messenger Thanks Immanuel Lutheran Students

Matt Kaman with his mother, Beverly, and Jordan Feldman, Area 18 Director, who also spoke
Matt Kaman with his mother, Beverly, and Jordan Feldman, Area 18 Director

Special Olympics Global Messenger Matthew Kaman joined Immanuel Lutheran School students in chapel on March 30 to personally thank them for Immanuel’s support of the hospitality tent at Special Olympics Illinois North Suburban Cook/Area 18 Spring Games. He described how much he enjoys going to the tent each year.

Matt has been competing in Special Olympics athletics events for more than 25 years. He told students that he can’t imagine what life would be like without Special Olympics and that his participation has improved not only his physical health, but also self-esteem. He concluded his remarks by telling the children, “Thank you for making this an event that the athletes will remember for the rest of their lives. God bless you.”

Matt has been serving as a Global Messenger since 2001 and his first speaking duty as a Messenger was addressing ILS students in chapel years ago.