On November 5, 2018, the United Center hosted the 20th Annual Special Olympics Illinois MedFest. The 2018 MedFest brought 1,557 aspiring and current Special Olympics athletes from across the city of Chicago to the United Center. Athletes received free sports physicals from over 130 health professionals from Advocate Medical Group.
Special Olympics Illinois provided transportation to and from the event for all athletes, bringing them in from a network of Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District, and private institutions.
Ernan Carranza, Special Olympics Illinois athlete from Graham Elementary had a great first experience at MedFest. “The doctors were very nice and made me feel comfortable and relaxed while getting my exam.”
For 20 years, the Chicago Medfest has made the seemingly impossible happen. Medfest could not happen without the continuous support of The United Center, Advocate Medical Group, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and Levy Restaurants; the organizations have opened their doors and dedicated staff to MedFest for 20 amazing years.
“We are kind of lucky; as doctors and nurses, our job description states how we can better serve our community. When you have the opportunity to serve people with even greater challenges, it causes you to pause & reflect- you feel like your work has meaning,” said Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group.
Dr. Hampton has been volunteering at MedFest for the past 8 years. After year one of volunteering, Tony was hooked. He began volunteering as a way to get out and give back to his community. Every year Tony leaves MedFest feeling inspired.
“I love MedFest because it allows me to compete in the sports I love, such as basketball and track & field,” said Javier Velez- Special Olympics Illinois athlete from Graham Elementary.
This event is impactful for more than its number of athletes served; it is remembered for its continuous welcoming smiles, endless stickers, and countless high fives.