Region B Stories Stories

Unified Champions Schools Impact


 

Listen to this interview on how impactful Unified Champion Schools has been for these two students, Danny & Charlotte.


Meet Daniel Cramer


 

Daniel Cramer was born on the 25th of June in 1999.  He was born six weeks early, but he quickly gained strength and met all his growth milestones on time.  Sadly, though, when Daniel turned two, he had his first seizure.  He lost all his speech and muscle tone and, suddenly, he was not the little boy we had come to know.  After going from doctor to doctor, Daniel was finally diagnosed with Autism, developmental delay, and seizure disorder.  It took many years of work to get him to talk again and socialize.  When Daniel turned eight, we introduced him to Special Olympics Illinois and the rest is history.

Daniel started bowling and, he loved it so much, he started playing other sports too.  He now participates in Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Track and Field, Tennis, Golf, Volleyball, Powerlifting and Snowshoeing, and is still always looking for more sports to play.

In powerlifting, Daniel can bench 165 pounds, and he lifts 360 pounds in the dead weight competition.  He and his family feel that powerlifting has given Daniel the strength to do well in all his sports.  In the last 12 years of competing, he has earned over 140 medals!

As a highlight of his Special Olympics Illinois career, Daniel was chosen to represent Team USA in the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi.  He and his brother Ryan competed in Unified Bocce at the games.  He had the experience of a lifetime meeting other athletes from around the world and making many new friends, many of whom he continues to communicate with through Facebook.  Daniel made everyone very proud when he won gold, silver, and bronze medals for Team USA!

When Daniel came home, he was honored by the Mayor of Round Lake Beach at a groundbreaking Heroes ceremony. He also went to Springfield and was honored by Governor Pritzker during a luncheon at the Governors Manson.

Along with great sports skills, Daniel also demonstrates leadership skills, as well.  For example, after he graduated high school, there wasn’t a local basketball team on which Daniel could play, so he decided to start his own team!  He got six friends to join, found a local, indoor court to use and, with the help of his mother/coach, team “Independent Remarc‐a‐Bulls” was formed. This season, the team was undefeated and qualified for state!

Daniel continues to play as many sports as he can and, during this uncertain time, he is participating in the online “School of Strength” challenge to stay strong and healthy.  Speaking of healthy, Daniel is also a Health Messenger for Special Olympics Illinois and he takes it very seriously.  He wants to keep all of his fellow athletes fit and healthy, too, and extends his own challenge to all of them…“Will all my fellow athletes please take the challenge and keep fit in this time of social distancing.”

Well said, Daniel, and congratulations on all of your success.  Thank you for setting a wonderful example for your fellow athletes, peers, and everyone!


Three Truck Convoys One Common Cause


 

This fall, law enforcement and truckers throughout the state joined to support Special Olympics Illinois. Officers involved in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois adopted the Truck Convoy as one of their annual signature events, and now the group hosts three Truck Convoys across Illinois: the Sears Centre Convoy in Hoffman Estates, the Troy Truck Convoy (hosted by CIT Trucks), and the Tinley Park Convoy (presented by Action Truck Parts). Together, these events raised $160,000, and in total, 285 trucks participated.

The annual event not only raises funds to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois, but it also fosters long-time friendships.

Mark Hohs, a long-time driver for Jewel-Osco, is set to retire after 37 years of unwavering devotion to the company. Upon retirement, Mark will “pass the Truck Convoy torch” to fellow Jewel-Osco driver, Jim Bowen, who also has close ties to Special Olympics Illinois.

Mark began driving in the Truck Convoys through working at Jewel-Osco. Jewel-Osco is a proud sponsor of Special Olympics Illinois and was well represented on the road during the Truck Convoys.

The past four years, Mark participated in the Sears Centre and Tinley Park Convoys, this year being his final year of participation. Over those four years, Mark grew close to Steve Katz, a Special Olympics Illinois athlete from Arlington Heights. From the beginning, the two bonded, as they both are proud employees of Jewel-Osco. The duo drove together during the Sears Centre and Tinley Park Convoys for four years straight.

While driving in the convoy, Mark was never short of encouragement and laughter from his trusty co-pilot, Steve. Mark and Steve would banter on about which truck would lead the group in the convoy this year.

Year after year, Mark walked away from the convoys feeling empowered due to Steve’s motivating attitude to always try his best.

Steve taught Mark what it truly means to be an athlete — commitment, passion, and the “be brave in the attempt” effort it takes to compete.

“I am very proud of Jewel-Osco’s involvement with Special Olympics Illinois,” said Hohs. “Because of Jewel-Osco, I met Steve, which created lasting memories that the two of us will share.”

We graciously thank Mark for his dedication to Special Olympics Illinois and welcome Jim with open arms to our Special Olympics Illinois family.


Meet the 2019 Unified Coaster Challenge Ambassadors:


 

Meet the 2019 Unified Coaster Challenge Ambassadors

Special Olympics Illinois athlete and Unified Partner, Anna Scholler and Sydney Baumstark are the 2019 Unified Coaster Challenge ambassadors. Anna and Sydney, both Libertyville residents, became friends through Special Olympics. They play on a Unified soccer team called the Libertyville Storm. The girls share a love for soccer and roller coasters.

Anna has been a Special Olympics athlete for several years. She competes in basketball, bocce, bowling, floor hockey, track & field, and soccer. Anna just recently graduated from Libertyville High School.

Sydney is a sophomore at Libertyville high school. She believes being involved in Special Olympics as a Unified Partner is very important. Being a Unified Partner, Sydney has learned the power and positivity of sport.

“We are more similar then we are different, regardless of our ability level. We all have the opportunity to succeed through sport,” said Sydney.

Anna and Sydney are true thrill-seekers In their free time, you will find Anna and Sydney on their favorite roller coasters, the Raging Bull and X-Flight. Anna and Sydney are honored and excited to be the Unified Coaster Challenge Ambassadors this year.


Change For Champions-Meet Eve Erita


 

On June 28, Jewel-Osco employee and Special Olympics Illinois athlete Eve Erita thought she was attending a summer luncheon in the McHenry, Illinois Jewel-Osco break room. However, when she walked in she saw her family, friends, coworkers and even best friend and bocce partner, Gina, all sitting at the tables waiting for her. Eve has been chosen to be the face of Jewel-Osco’s “Change For Champions” at-register campaign for the month of July and everyone was there for the celebration.

Store Director, Dana Smith, gave a heartwarming speech describing how Eve, who has been an employee with Jewel-Osco since 1991, has always been a happy and helpful employee. “Her cheerful outlook, contagious smile, makes it a joy to work with. I know that every day, I come in and I’m working up front, she does miss me, she always says hello friend!”

Eve has competed in Special Olympics for over 2 decades, competing in multiple sports including basketball and bowling. She is a people person and a great team player.

“Every day she works, she comes in with a smile and a very contagious laugh,” says coworker Samantha Green.

“Her cheerful disposition and positive attitude make every day in our store a lot brighter and she is a joy to work with.”

Eve is famous for her hand-made greeting cards and her ability to remember friends and customers on their birthdays and holidays. Now it’s Eve’s turn to be celebrated – she will be featured in all of Change for Champions collateral all July long.

This promotion runs July 1-31 at 188 Jewel-Osco locations throughout Illinois, where customers will be encouraged to make a $1, $3, or $5 donation during checkout.

Congratulations Eve!