By Dave Breen, President & CEO
As we near the end of the year, I want take this opportunity to thank everyone for all your efforts in 2016 and share some of the many positives that have happened within Special Olympics Illinois. We will end this year with our 18th consecutive year of growth in athletes served and saw record revenue from both the Illinois Lottery Ticket and Inspire Greatness Gala, while conducting more than 300 events. Special Olympics athletes continue to lead the way in giving speeches to record audiences and foster athlete leadership through their work on the Board of Directors.
Key volunteers like the Special Olympics Illinois Board of Directors and Foundation Board are providing thought leadership and resources necessary to sustain our growth as we navigate an ever-changing world. We are very excited to pioneer new programs like Family Ambassadors, Team Wellness and the Player Development Model, while still offering 19 Olympic-style sports for more than 22,000 athletes and more than 20,000 Young Athletes with the help of 46,000 volunteers.
While the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act is going to change the way we work, our team at Special Olympics Illinois was already planning a structure change to help us achieve the Big 3 Goals (Reach More Athletes, Improve Athlete Experience and Raise More Resources), laying the foundation for growth and innovation for years to come. The reorganization will focus more staff at the grassroots level to foster support of agencies. I am asking agencies and constituents to email me with ideas about what we can do to improve services. If there are barriers caused by the Department of Labor changes that are negatively impacting your agency, please let me know that as well.
We are looking toward the future by developing a Strategic Plan for 2018-2020 that will incorporate your input, feedback and ideas. We are already busy planning for 2018 – a very exciting year in Illinois and worldwide with the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics which started on July 20, 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Please mark your calendars for July 20-22, 2018; we have some very exciting things planned in the city of Chicago to show the impact individuals with intellectual disabilities have had on the world as we honor the past, communicate about the present and show the vision for the future. One athlete leader projected that in the next 50 years there will be a Special Olympics athlete running their state’s Special Olympics program. With the attitude, courage and determination of the individuals we serve, I don’t doubt that in the least.
Thank you for all that you do to make this a great organization serving the best customers in the world!