Law Enforcement Torch Run Stories

Virtual Plane Pull!


 

The Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run is delighted to launch the 2020 Virtual Plane Pull for Special Olympics Illinois!


Row 4 Dough Teams Working Together for a Common Goal


 

Mary Anne Ehlert Former Special Olympics Illinois Board Member Supports Row 4 Dough with a Surprising Outcome.
Mary Anne Ehlert has been involved with Special Olympics Illinois for more than 40 years as a former board member, supporter, family member, and new this year, Row 4 Dough participant.

Recently, Mary Anne has participated in rowing groups through Hydrow, an interactive online rowing experience. After learning that Row 4 Dough encompassed a virtual option this year, she reached out to some rowing companions to help form a team. The response was overwhelming with 50 individuals interested. Team PT (Protected Tomorrows) Hydrow formed five teams of 10. Of the 50 participants, many have rowed not only thousands, but also millions of meters over the years, so it is safe to say they were happy to participate.

Mary Anne funded $500 for each team along with fundraising from the individual rowers. All five teams rowed their way to a total of $3,520.

The most surprising coincidence about the group was the number who were involved in Special Olympics. Some have an athlete in their family, some are coaches, and others just embody the Special Olympics mission.

Participant Megan Morrison is involved because of her role as a teacher. “I work with many amazing atypical students who demonstrate every day what it means to rise to challenges,” said Megan.

Pictured: Megan Morrison
Pictured: Mara (Special Olympics Illinois athlete) and Robert Johnson (Special Olympics coach), father and daughter duo, participated in the event.

Algonquin PD to Support Special Olympics Row 4 Dough with 11 Rowers. Written by Sgt. Dennis W. Walker of the Algonquin Police Department.
Our team name is Algonquin PD Row for SO. We are comprised of 11 Algonquin Officers including Chief John Bucci, Sgt. Andrew Doles, Sgt. Timothy Cooney, Officers Haley Bucheleres, Joseph Cisneros, David Gough, Daniel Klocke, Steven Skrodzki, Brandon Watson, and Trevor Wogsland, and myself.
This is our first year participating in Row 4 Dough, but have been involved in many awareness and fundraising events which include, Cop on the Rooftop, Plane Pull, Texas Roadhouse, Summer Games, and other local events. Our team has raised over $1,000 to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.

Speaking for our team, we enjoy serving and representing our local and state athletes with hopes to raise funds and awareness on their behalf. I have fond memories of my mother taking me out of school for the day to watch a neighborhood friend compete in the Spring Games at Bloom High School. Because of that experience, I have formed strong relationships with many Special Olympics athletes.
During my time as a School Resource Officer at Jacobs High School, I had the opportunity to support and engage with student-athletes for almost nine years.
Participating in Row 4 Dough has allowed us to support Special Olympics Illinois athletes across the state as well as our current High School Resource Officer, Andrea Treml.


LETR Letter Campaign


 

Click here for more information about sending your favorite LETR Officer or Department a letter to show your support!


Lives Transformed: Special Olympics Illinois and Family, Changed Together and Forever


 

“Once you go once, there is no escaping it. You can’t help but get hooked” says Meggan Rogers talking about her experience with the Special Olympics Illinois. To her and her mother Linda Hagemann, the Special Olympics community is like a second family to them.

Meggan’s mother, Linda, is a police liaison at the Kane County State’s Attorney Office. She has worked at that office for more than 40 years. With her position, she has gained very close friendships with the officers and police departments in the area. One day, a good friend, Police Chief of East Dundee PD and State Director for Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run, Joe Pena asked her to attend a weekend at this event called the “Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games”. She was hesitant, as she had three young daughters, Meggan, Nicole, and Sara to take care of. But, she took the opportunity, and of course, her and extremely supportive husband with everything Special Olympics Illinois, Scott, headed to Bloomington/Normal. “Just one weekend”, Linda quoted. “Well as you know, just one time turns into a lifetime”. This “one time” was in 1998, 22 years ago.

Now for Meggan, she was only at the age of four when she attended this first summer games event. From this moment, by the time she was eight, she was wanting to be a special education teacher. She, along with her sisters, became so attached to the Special Olympics, that they gave up going on a trip to Disney World, as the dates of the Summer Games would overlap their time at Disney. Meggan quoted her saying when she was younger: “No mom, we’re not going to Disney because our friends will miss us, they will be looking for us”, their friends being the Special Olympics Illinois athletes that they had become so close to.

With Meggan’s love and constant involvement with the Special Olympics community, and of course wanting to be a Special Education teacher since she was eight years old, she went on to be a Special Education teacher at Mill Creek Elementary School in Geneva. She personally works with five intellectually disabled children, or as she calls them, “kiddos”, in a self-contained room, mainly where the kids spend 70-80% of the school day. What this is, is a room, just like a classroom, where these kiddos are taught more life-based information and instruction. Now for the other 20-30% of the school day, the students spend their time with other children in the school, whether that be at recess, lunch, or other school gatherings. “I look at it now (being involved with the Special Olympics) as a teacher, I wish more parents and more families would teach that acceptance and provide those opportunities to kids, just to make the world a better place”.

For Linda, she could not be more proud of her daughter Meggan and the direction she has gone with helping intellectually disabled children. She herself stays involved with Special Olympics Illinois to this day:

“Those were some amazing family times. Watching the girls grow up with the love they have for the athletes, the excitement, looking for certain athletes they had bonded with, had started a relationship with. As parents, Scott and I were so proud of them, and I think they grew up accepting everybody…they grew up around these athletes that they were just like them. The athletes were just like them”.

She, along with her family, wants people to understand that someone who is intellectually disabled is no different than us. They can do the same, if not more, than many of us! They are able to touch our hearts and change the lives of many, just as they did for Linda and Meggan.


Super Plunge Celebrates 15 Years of Jumping into Icy Waters


 
Mary Pocuis carry’s the Eternal Flame.

February 21st at 1:00 p.m. sharp, a group of 46 SUPER Plungers began the first of 24 icy dips into Lake Michigan over 24 hours, all to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.

This year, the SUPER Plunge celebrates its 15th year of bringing individuals – from all walks of life – together for one common cause. Among the group was a first-time SUPER Plunger, Director of Illinois State Police, Brendan Kelly, and as well as longtime SUPER Plungers Mary Pocuis and Mike McDermott.

For most, this event may seem unbearable or impossible, but for Brendan, Mary, and Mike, it is just another way to give back to the athletes.

Mary Pocuis and Mike McDermott center.

“The men and women who serve in the Illinois State Police believe in the best of humanity and lifting people up, so supporting Special Olympics Illinois is a natural fit,” said Director Kelly.

Director Kelly and his team are looking forward to continuing to SUPER Plunge next year and for years to come. They hope to become as experienced as Mary and Mike, who have been plunging since the event’s inception, 15 years ago.

For Mary, the experience is a subtle reminder of why continuing to plunge is so important. “We do crazy things, for all the right reasons,” said Mary. “It’s about the athletes that we serve here in Illinois.”

Illinois State Police are our heroes no matter what uniform they wear!

Being a leg leader for DuPage County, Mary tries to gain as much continued support as possible from her fellow officers. She does not ask her fellow officers to support something she would not do herself.

As of the 2020 SUPER Plunge, Mary and Mike’s warm hearts have taken 360 plunges over 15 years – a record here in Illinois.

“I would have never stayed this long without the great people involved in the Torch Run that keep us motivated to jump in the freezing lake,” said Mike.

Illinois State Police take the Plunge

After 24 hours of plunging into ice-cold water, morale can be low, but not for this group. They pulled through until the end, raising over $131,000 with 46 total SUPER plungers. The SUPER Plunge could not have been a success without the help of many contributors, including Statewide-presenting sponsor, GEICO.

As a result of support from first-time plungers like Brendan and long-time plungers like Mike and Mary, the SUPER Plunge has had continued success. On the 24th plunge, Mary turned to Mike and said, “I’m coming back next year, and so are you!”