Family Leadership Stories

Family Leadership Program Off to a Great Start


Special Olympics Illinois is excited to introduce our newest team of Family Ambassadors! A Family Leadership workshop was held Saturday, May 14, in Lincolnshire to further engage and educate family members about opportunities as Family Ambassadors. There were 11 families in attendance, with a total of 25 family members including 2 siblings, 7 athletes and 16 parents.

Special Olympics Illinois realizes the importance of families to help advance the goals of Improving the Athlete Experience, Reaching More Athletes and Raising More Money. These passionate and dedicated families have volunteered to help expand, engage and recognize families statewide to inspire new involvement and help build a better Special Olympics program.

Here are some of the comments from these families on how they’d like to help:

  • “I’d like to get involved in speaking to groups/corporations on the benefits of Special Olympics” – Steve Cerve, Vernon Hills
  • “We love to volunteer at events, fundraisers, etc., as well as educate families on the benefits of Special Olympics.” – The Stoklosa Family, Wheeling
  • “I would love to talk to other families about Special Olympics to spread the word on how much it has impacted our lives.” – Pam Lorenz, Peotone
  • “Help with talking to families that are not involved with Special Olympics, but have questions/interest whether Special Olympics is right for their children and share our story about how it has impacted my son as well as our whole family and family friends.” – Scott Lorenz, Peotone
  • “I’ll try to help in anything that you need! Whatever you need! I am a coach and have been recruiting that way, also as a Family Ambassador and mentoring.” – Diane and Greg Compton, Countryside
  • “Whatever it takes!” – Ryan Compton, Countryside, sibling

It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us. This is a great opportunity to acknowledge and act upon our shared values, interests and passions with families. The energy, enthusiasm and dedication they show is crucial to the success and fulfillment of dreams for many Special Olympics athletes across our state.

Additional Family Ambassador workshops will be scheduled in the fall in other parts of the state. If you are interested in sharing your passion with other families and with Special Olympics, please contact us at or Karen Milligan at 309-888-2551. Like the Special Olympics Illinois Families page on Facebook.


Families Making a Difference in Special Olympics Illinois


We all know about the transformative power that Special Olympics has on athletes and their families, but rarely do we focus on the impact that families have on Special Olympics Illinois.  This month, we shine the spotlight on two families who are making a difference – the Lorenz and Stoklosa families.

Pam, Nick and ?? Lorenz

Pam, Nick and Scott Lorenz visited the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., while volunteering at the World Games

Nick Lorenz, 20, of Peotone, has been a Special Olympics athlete for 12 years, competing in basketball, bowling, golf, volleyball and bocce, and is a Global Messenger. His mother, Pam, is Nick’s speech mentor while his father, Scott, coaches Nick’s basketball team and is Nick’s Unified Partner in golf and bocce.

Nick was the 2015 Duck Ambassador for the Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby; Pam also served as co-captain of the Darling Ducklings who raised nearly $65,000 for Special Olympics Illinois. Both Scott and Pam helped Nick sells duck adoptions for the Darling Ducklings team at numerous site sales opportunities, in addition to transporting Nick to various media appearances.

“Special Olympics has opened up countless opportunities to travel to places like World Games (where Nick was a bus greeter, Pam was a volunteer coordinator and Scott acted as chauffer coordinating their schedules),” said Pam.

“Special Olympics has been able to build Nick’s self-esteem and has brought our immediate and extended family much closer together by everyone’s involvement and support of all our Special Olympics activities, especially this year’s Ducky Derby.”

Stan, Theresa, Ela, Kristina and Brett DeRaleau are shown at the Inspire Greatness Gala

Stan, Theresa, Ela, Kristina and Brett DeRaleau are shown at the Inspire Greatness Gala

Ela Stoklosa, 25, of Wheeling, participates in nine sports. She has been a Global Messenger for four years, is a member of the Darling Ducklings sales team and was the 2014 Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby Ambassador.

“Special Olympics has provided a fun learning experience in the world of sports and creates strong relationships with families and athletes alike,” said Ela’s mother, Theresa. “When attending any Special Olympics event, we love seeing the proud smiles on all the athletes’ faces and just talking to them about their accomplishments makes our day! But most of all, we love the hugs!”

The entire Stoklosa family is involved in Special Olympics. “Our older son, Steve, coaches several Special Olympics teams; our older daughter, Kristina, is on the Area 18 Young Professionals Board; Ela’s dad, Stan, and younger son, Matt, volunteer at different Area events; and I serve on several Area 18 committees and am the Darling Ducklings co-captain,” said Theresa. “And, we are all involved in Ducky Derby sales.”

“Special Olympics is near and dear to our hearts and we are grateful for all the wonderful opportunities it has opened up for our family,” said Theresa.

The impact that these families have made is tremendous. Without the support of families like the Lorenzes and Stoklosas who are giving back to Special Olympics Illinois, the organization wouldn’t be able to provide the quality programs it does. For more information on how your family can get involved or to share how your family is involved with Special Olympics, please contact Karen Milligan at 309-888-2551.

By Michele Evans, Director of Communications