Drew White started competing in Special Olympics Illinois more than 15 years ago. “My stepmom encouraged me to get involved and I have not looked back since,” said the Bloomington athlete.

Although he competes in various sports such as basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, and swimming, Drew’s absolute favorite is tennis.

Rob Kelley (left) and Drew White (right)

You may recognize his face from a recent announcement of Illinois delegates who will compete at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin this June. Drew will represent Special Olympics USA this year in traditional singles and Unified doubles. Fellow Bloomington resident and Unified partner, Rob Kelley, will play alongside Drew in doubles.

“I cannot wait for Berlin,” said Drew, “I am beyond excited. This is a dream come true for me and I am already excited to meet new friends and athletes around the world.” Drew added, “I am getting myself ready to compete and represent not only Illinois but the United States of America.”

Drew’s father, Jay, and stepmother, Vhee, noted that Drew’s charm “has no barrier.” They say, “Drew can befriend anybody without even trying. He is hardworking, competitive, and not afraid of taking risks.”

Drew says he has grown up with Special Olympics Illinois and through it, he has learned “so much.” “The coaches, staff, and those at Special Opportunities Available in Recreation (SOAR) are so accepting. My teammates became my friends, and those friends have become like family. To me, Special Olympics Illinois is like one big happy family,” said Drew.

Drew opening his Polar Plunge Happy Box

Aside from practicing for competitions and preparing for the upcoming World Games, Drew looks forward to serving as this year’s Athlete Ambassador for the Polar Plunges in Region G. This role includes involvement in the community, such as speaking to local businesses, taking interviews with media stations, spreading the word about the Polar Plunge on social media, and more.

In addition to these leadership tasks, Drew also plans to “practice what he preaches” by partaking in the plunge himself. “I’m excited about going into that icy cold water with my friends. I’m already looking forward to it!”

When asked what inspires him in life, Drew had two answers. Firstly, he said, “My friends. Despite the different disabilities that we have, we are always trying our best to be good in what we do.” Drew’s second answer? “The Cubs!”

The 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Illinois benefits local athletes like Drew in Illinois, helping to provide year-round programming in not just sports but health education, leadership, and personal development.

Learn more and register for a plunge near you at plungeillinois.com.