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2023 Year in Review

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Hello Champion of Special Olympics Illinois,

Thank you for supporting our mission of inclusion. Because you championed our athletes in 2023, it was an outstanding year across the state. Our athletes were able to spend the year finding ways to say “so I DID,” including becoming world champions, sharing their stories, learning, and so much more.

And, our partners and volunteers, alongside our athletes, showed why Special Olympics Illinois helps to lead the SO movement.

On a personal note, thank you to each of you who have welcomed me to this fine organization. I can’t wait to see what we can do as we step forward, together.

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A Transition in Leadership

This last year marked a pivotal moment in the organization's trajectory, promising fresh perspectives and strategies to further its mission of empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities through sports. As we reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the past year, the arrival of new leadership offers an exciting opportunity to embrace growth, innovation, and continued dedication to inclusion and advocacy.

New President & CEO Hired | Outgoing Remarks from Dave Breen

Performing on a Global Stage

Athletes from Illinois joined the best of the best as they competed at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany. Our delegation of 14 individuals, alongside 10 additional representatives showed the world how we do it in Illinois. Colleen Costello, Region J, earned a gold in the rhythmic gymnastics all around; and athlete Drew White, Region G, and his Unified partner, Rob Kelley hit the podium with a bronze for Unified tennis doubles.

Bringing Home International Hardware

The Best in the World

The Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) brought the world to our home state with the hosting of the International LETR Conference in Chicago at the end of October. While everyone was in town, the group used the opportunity to stake claim as the top program in the world, grossing more than $4.5 million in the previous year, bringing the total contribution by law enforcement to Special Olympics Illinois athletes to more than $70 million.

Building Inclusive Communities | Guardians of the Flame

On the Field of Play

From exhilarating athletic showdowns to heartwarming displays of sportsmanship, the year showcased the unwavering dedication and talent of Illinois’ athletes. Across 190 sporting events and championships, participants demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination, embodying the ethos of the Special Olympics movement. These competitions not only fostered a sense of community and belonging but also shattered stereotypes and ignited a passion for inclusion. Reminisce about the 2023 State Championships.

Wheaton’s Sam Angelo Relishes First Trip to State Bowling Tournament

Rockford Red Hots Coach Ahead of Fall Games: “Do the Best You Can and Help Each Other”

Victory Comes in Many Forms, and For Young and Old, at Summer Games

Two Athletes Express Excitement for Basketball Tournament

View the Photo Gallery

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Amidst the reflections on the past year, one story stands out as a beacon of inclusivity and inspiration: that of a Special Olympics Illinois athlete whose journey embodies the essence of our mission. Through her unwavering determination, resilience, and passion, this remarkable individual has not only defied stereotypes but also illuminated the transformative power of acceptance and belonging.

Just About Z

By the Numbers

Explore the annual Reach Report, highlighting how the organization's commitment to empowerment, acceptance, and advocacy continues to touch the lives of individuals in Illinois, representing the spirit of unity and resilience at the heart of the Special Olympics movement.

View the 2023 Reach Report

Healthy Athletes

Health education plays a vital role in the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities. Through the Healthy Athletes program, the organization championed health and well being by offering crucial screenings, resources, and support to participants. From dental care to vision assessments, these initiatives not only promoted physical health but also empowered individuals to take charge of their overall wellness.

Region I Athlete Leading the Inclusive Health Movement as Health Messenger

Be at Your Unified Best

If the children are our future, then the success of Unified Champion School means it will be a bright one. In 2023, we saw Unified Champion Schools grow to 400 statewide. There were three National Banner Schools recognized across Illinois, and we hosted 70 Unified competitions.

UCS Teaches You to Be at Your Best | Unified Runs Deep | Inclusion Means Everything

Get in on the Action

We celebrate the spirit of unity, resilience, and inclusivity that defines the essence of Special Olympics Illinois and its community. Here are a few more examples of how everyone has a place in the Inclusion Revolution.

Special Olympics Illinois Announces Partnership with Cole Kmet

Athlete Finds Growth and Passion in Esports

Inaugural Bank of America Chicago Marathon Charity Team Goes “Far” for the Athletes of Special Olympics Illinois

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Share your time and talent with our athletes as well as our statewide community by becoming a Special Olympics Illinois volunteer.

Again, we thank you so much for supporting our athletes, and in turn, our mission as we all join together to build a more inclusive world.

With mission in mind,
Pete Beale-DelVecchio
President & CEO
Special Olympics Illinois