Breakfast of Executive Champions 

I’ll have scrambled eggs with a side of inspiration please!

On October 9th, two hundred-fifty members of the business community started their day at The Dalcy in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, ready to learn more about the programs and athletes at Special Olympics Illinois.  Some guests were old friends and supporters, but the majority of the audience had never been formally introduced to our organization.

SOILL Board Chair, Karen Atwood, opened the program with a message of strength and confidence.  She explained to the audience, the power of our 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and other certifications, and that an astounding 81% of our revenue is directed for program use.  She also shared personal stories of athletes and families who motivate her to devote her energy and skill to SOILL.

President and CEO, Dave Breen, took the podium next, describing how and why he became involved in Special Olympics Illinois three decades ago, and enumerating our full range of programs.  Most guests were already familiar with the sports programs that have been our core since 1968, but many were surprised and delighted to hear about our Health, Leadership and Inclusion programs.  In many cases, these disciplines have a direct relationship to what companies strive to achieve every day: teamwork, determination, health & wellness, personal development, and diversity & inclusion.    Then Dave introduced Garrett Anderson.

From the first boom of his voice, to his final word, Garrett impressed the audience with his message of empowerment, and what it means to be a champion.  He talked about setting aside the kind of pessimism our athletes face every day in being told what they can and can’t do.  Instead he suggested setting goals, working with a plan, learning from failure, and winning with grace. Every person in attendance could relate to Garret’s message of perseverance.

Then Dave Breen returned to the stage to introduce Mike Greenberg and Don Shannon of Interior Investments, a company who has quietly raised over half a million dollars through their unique signature event to benefit SOILL, (a chair hockey tournament).  Interior Investments was awarded the very first “Executive Champion” award not just for their fundraising efforts, but also for partnering with SOILL on many other projects.  The owners described the history of their event, and how profoundly Special Olympics Illinois has impacted the culture of their organization. After thanking their employees, many of whom were in the audience, for their dedication to supporting the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois, they challenged the audience members to do the same.

Then it was time to get back to the office, informed and inspired, but before leaving, guests provided feedback.  Many made donations, while others offered help in the way of in-kind support and volunteerism, but all were positive and affirming.  Thank you to the business community for sharing a meal with us, and becoming members of the extended Special Olympics Illinois family.  You are all Champions!