For many high school seniors and juniors, the thoughts of “what comes after high school?” occur often, and Jimmy Peterlich of Charleston High School is no different from his peers in that he too is considering his future endeavors. At his home, Jimmy often would create and write restaurant menus, which steadily grew to a passion for owning and managing a restaurant someday. Thanks to his family and some legislative support, Jimmy’s dream of learning restaurant management and working with customers was more of a reality on his horizon than expected.
In April, Jimmy and several other Global Messengers and Family Ambassadors attended the Special Olympics Illinois Capitol Day in Springfield to help raise awareness for individuals with special needs and their abilities to thrive, make friendships, be involved with their communities, learn sports, and compete like other athletes. Jimmy, a gold medal winner in basketball, athletics (track & field) and bowling, has been serving as a liaison and Global Messenger for SOILL since his early childhood.
While at the State Capital in Springfield, Jimmy and his mother, Colleen Peterlich, met with Illinois State Sen. Dale Righter and Rep. Reggie Phillips and expressed his passion to own and operate a restaurant someday. Hearing Jimmy’s passion and drive for his future endeavors, Rep. Phillips, a restaurant owner in the Charleston area, offered Jimmy a “Manager for a Day” experience to better understand the intricacies of restaurant management.
Of course, Jimmy said “yes” to being the Manager for the Day at the Brickhouse Bar & Grill of Charleston and Rep. Phillips, who is the restaurant’s owner, offered to donate 20 percent of all sales that night to Special Olympics Illinois.
It was decided that Jimmy would be Manager for the Day from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 12. Colleen Peterlich was ecstatic for her son to have this opportunity, saying beforehand “I hope we pack the house that night and let Jimmy’s skills shine! I feel awareness is so important and the more people that are around Jimmy and others, (they) love them more than they ever could imagine.”
Well, pack the Brickhouse is just what Jimmy’s family, friends and fans did to show their support for Jimmy and his dreams of learning restaurant management, hopefully to one day own a restaurant. The great number of community members, not just from Charleston, but surrounding towns like Mattoon and Arcola, is proof to Jimmy that his efforts to bring awareness for empowering individuals with special needs, highlighting their capabilities and bringing about change for inclusion are effective.
Congratulations Jimmy Peterlich on his great success! We are proud of your bravery to seek out your dreams.
By Vanessa L. Duncan, Special Olympics Illinois East Central/Area 9 Director