Throughout the month of July, Jewel-Osco’s “Change for Champions” will celebrate Special Olympics Illinois athlete, Karen, of Palos Park, Illinois. Karen represents a community at Special Olympics Illinois of more than 55,000 traditional athletes, Young Athletes, Unified partners, coaches, volunteers, and more.

Karen is also employed at Jewel-Osco. She has worked there for 17 years, currently as a service clerk. According to her Front-End Manager, Jaime-Lyn, Karen is “one of the best, sweetest service clerks [she] has ever worked with.”

Jaime-Lyn says Karen “always comes to work with an infectious smile on her face, a positive attitude, and is always willing to help customers. In fact, many people look for Karen to bag their groceries or to just say hello to as she happily works.” Karen is also known for arriving for her shifts on time, ready to work, all while greeting her co-workers and customers on her way in.

In her time with Special Olympics Illinois, Karen has participated in numerous sports, including swimming, bowling, basketball, and athletics. Most recently, she won gold in bocce doubles at the 2023 Summer Games in Normal.

According to her mother, Karen loves participating in Special Olympics Illinois every year with her friends and teammates. Karen and her family are also proud that the company Karen works for is a longtime partner and sponsor of Special Olympics Illinois.

In 2021, Jewel-Osco 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 Karen. The promotion runs July 1-31 at 188 Jewel-Osco locations, where customers will be encouraged to make a donation during checkout.

“In all of my years of working for Jewel-Osco,” Jaime-Lyn said, “I have never met someone who I feel is more deserving of this special honor than Karen.”

Karen's local store, fellow employees, and members of the Special Olympics Illinois staff threw a surprise party to announce her selection as this year’s ambassador.

Click here to watch a video of her reaction.

To participate, find a Jewel-Osco location near you here.