Last Saturday, hundreds of thrill seeking adventurers took on the challenge of riding Six Flags Great America’s world-famous roller coasters in support of Special Olympics Illinois. For some challengers, this was their first year choosing to ride, and for others, Coaster Challenge is a walk in the (theme) park.
One team in particular, the EV Wizard Warriors, has been participating in Coaster Challenge since 2016. The team consists of family members Gary, Finn, Austin, Amber, “Aunt” Barb, Storm, and Pat. Each year come September, they travel from different parts of Illinois, and even Iowa, to take the challenge.
This year, Amber, Finn, Barb, and Gary went for the half marathon, which meant raising a minimum of $500 each. Austin and Storm went for the 5K, which meant raising the minimum of $150 each. The EV Wizard Warriors don’t plan to stop there! Next year, these coaster enthusiasts plan to up their goals.
The 2022 Coaster Challenge raised more than $52,000 for the more than 21,000 traditional Special Olympics Illinois athletes and more than 8,000 Unified partners with Unified Champion Schools.
EV Wizard Warrior member Storm is a Special Olympics Illinois athlete from Region A. Outside of playing her favorite sports of softball throw, bocce ball, and athletics, Storm has participated in Coaster Challenge since middle school. For this year’s event, Storm says she was most excited to ride the rides and spend time with her family.
And riding the equivalent of a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon all on roller coasters is no small feat; it requires a great deal of bravery. Storm says that to her, being brave means, “Doing things that other people don’t,” and, “When something scares you, do it anyway.”
Storm’s grandmother, Pat, says in addition to raising money for Special Olympics Illinois, their family has a lot of fun sharing the importance of its mission through the Coaster Challenge.
When asked what their favorite part of the event is, each EV Wizard Warrior had a different answer: “No waiting lines,” said Austin; “Family togetherness and fun,” said Gary; “Riding the coasters and supporting the cause,” said Barb.
A huge thank you to the EV Wizard Warriors and all other participants and volunteers who took part in the 2022 Coaster Challenge!