Throughout the month of July, Jewel-Osco’s “Change for Champions” celebrates Allie Leehaug of New Lenox, Illinois. Allie represents the more than 23,100 athletes who compete through programming at Special Olympics Illinois.
Allie is also employed at Jewel-Osco, where she began working nearly 13 years ago. In addition to her time there, she is also a long-time Special Olympics Illinois athlete. She began competing in 1999 at age 11.
Over the past two decades, Allie has participated in track and field, traditional and Unified volleyball, basketball, bowling, softball, soccer and, her favorite sport, floor hockey. She enjoys the sport’s speed.
Currently, Allie competes with Lincolnway Special Recreation Association (LWSRA) and the Oak Lawn Park District. Allie was selected to run the Pentathlon as part of Team Illinois at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey where she earned both bronze and gold medals.
Additionally, she has been honored as the 2010 LWSRA Athlete of the Year, and a four-time Ron Knisley Spirit of the Game Award recipient. Allie also serves as Special Olympics Illinois Global Messenger and Darling Duckling – the athlete sales team for the Chicago Ducky Derby.
Jewel-Osco has relaunched its annual register fundraising campaign through the “Making Change” donation program called “Change for Champions” to support the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois like Allie. The promotion runs July 1-31 at the 188 Jewel-Osco locations, where customers will be encouraged to make a donation during checkout.
Kathy Lillie, a Jewel-Osco Personnel Coordinator, who began working with Allie in 2008, nominated her for this year’s ambassadorship.
“Allie is a reliable and hardworking employee with great customer service,” says Lillie. “I nominated Allie because of her involvement with community activities and her popularity with both employees and customers.”
Her local store, fellow employees, and members of the Special Olympics Illinois staff threw a surprise party for Allie to announce her selection as this year’s ambassador. Watch the video below to see her reaction.
Jewel-Osco is a long-standing partner of Special Olympics Illinois and it’s events. Coming up on August 5, the organization is serving as the presenting sponsor for a favorite Chicago summertime event, the Chicago Ducky Derby. Last month, Jewel-Osco also sponsored the Special Olympics Virtual Summer Games.
“We’re so appreciative of our community partners that have shared visions of a world of inclusion, like Jewel-Osco,” said Valerie Day, Chief Development Officer, Special Olympics Illinois. “Not only have they stepped up to the challenge when it comes to their fundraising efforts, but Jewel-Osco provides jobs for many Special Olympics athletes throughout Illinois. Opportunities like these provide athletes with the ability to learn valuable life skills and be productive members of their communities.”