Torch Run Events Stories

Virtual Plane Pull!


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

IDOC Torch of Cash


The Illinois Department of Corrections is partnering with Special Olympics Illinois to host Law Enforcement Torch Run Torch of Cash Raffles at their various facilities.

Illinois Department of Correction facilities interested in hosting a Torch of Cash Raffle must apply for a raffle license at their local city hall. The License should be secured under the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois name, NOT IDOC.  Please contact your local government to determine the steps to acquire a raffle license in your municipality.

Once the raffle license is approved, please follow the below steps when conducting your raffle. Click here to download the Payout Check-List.

Illinois Department of Corrections
Torch of Cash Raffle Process

Step 1 – Secure Raffle License

IDOC Liaison must apply and be approved for a Raffle License in the municipality they are hosting the drawing in.  Raffle license should be requested under the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois name. Special Olympics EIN #: 36-2922811

Step 2 – Notify Special Olympics Illinois

IDOC Liaison must complete this online notification form and upload a copy of the approved raffle license.

Step 3 – Host Raffle and Submit Funds

IDOC facility will host a weekly raffle until a winner is selected.  Money raised via raffle sales should be submitted to Special Olympics Illinois via this form each month.  Please note you must indicate Torch of Cash in the event name area at the bottom of the form. Torch of Cash donations will not be credited to your department total until the conclusion of the raffle.

Step 4 – Update Special Olympics Illinois each week

IDOC facility liaison must update Special Olympics Illinois of the raffle progress each week via this online form.

Step 5 – Select Winner and Follow Payout Policy

Payment will be mailed within 35 business days of Special Olympics Illinois receiving all completed payout documentation (approximately 40 days from the raffle drawing date).

Payouts less than $600

  • Inform winner to allow 30 days to receive their payout from Special Olympics Illinois
  • Complete the Payout Checklist and email to within 5 business days.
  • Inform winner that payment will be mailed within 35 business days of Special Olympics Illinois receiving all completed payout documentation.

Payouts $600 – $5,000

  • Winner to Complete 2020 W2G Form , include payout amount and ensure signature and date at bottom of each page
    • Winner to keep all copies of W-2 EXCEPT copy D.
    • Mail completed W-2, Copy D & completed Payout Checklist within 5 business days to:

Special Olympics Illinois
Attn: Torch Run
605 East Willow
Normal, IL 61761

Payouts greater than $5,000

  • Winner to Complete 2020 W2G Form, include payout amount and ensure signature and date at bottom of each page
    • Winner to keep all copies of W-2 EXCEPT copy D.
    • Mail completed W-2, Copy D & completed Payout Checklist  within 5 business days to:

Special Olympics Illinois
Attn: Torch Run
605 East Willow
Normal, IL 61761

***All raffles must be concluded by the first Friday in December of the same fiscal year that they began. ***

Complete Online Notification Form Here

Athlete Finds Unique Way to Raise Money for Polar Plunge – Collecting, Recycling Cans


Special Olympics Illinois athlete Jacob Cross of Bloomington is looking forward to repeating the Polar Plunge at Bloomington’s Miller Park on Feb. 25, 2017. Jacob has come up with a rather unique way of raising the minimum $100 to participate in the event that helps both Special Olympics and the environment.

IMG 3517 WebJacob plunged in 2016 with his Special Olympics team from Tri-Valley High School (he’s pictured above in back row wearing a blue wig). Afterward, he told his mother, Julie, he wanted to do it again in 2017. She told him “If you want to this again, let’s try to raise $100 by recycling cans. Why not see how much we can collect?”

Jacob was all in. He already had experience collecting aluminum cans; he had collected cans as a cool-down in the local parks after track practices.

He started with purpose over the summer and ramped up his efforts this fall. He visits local public parks to collect the cans and takes them to a local recycling plant to exchange for cash. “Right now, aluminum cans are getting 30 to 35 cents per pound,” said Julie Cross.

As Jacob’s friends and family have heard of his fundraising efforts, they have been collecting cans and recyclables for him. “We even had someone give us tires so we can recycle the rims,” said Julie. “Now we just have to figure out how to get the tires off the rims,” she said with a chuckle.

IMG 1511 WebJacob, 26, has been a Special Olympics athlete since he was about 10 years old. He has concentrated on swimming through the years, deviating to athletics (track & field) for two years. He started swimming with Special Opportunities Available in Recreation (SOAR) as a boy, swam with Bloomington Parks & Recreations summer team and then swam on the boys’ swim team at Bloomington High School. He now swims with the Tri-Valley team because their practice times fit best into the family’s schedule, his mother said.

As of mid-November, Jacob had collected $175 for the Polar Plunge. Jacob has the second tier of Plunge fundraising in his sights – if he raises $275, he’ll qualify for the exclusive Polar Plunge water bottle in addition to the Plunge sweatshirt he’ll get for raising the $100 minimum. If he gets to $500, he’ll also qualify for the Polar Plunge backpack in addition to the water bottle and sweatshirt.

Register for the 2017 Polar Plunge at any of the 22 locations and give athletes like Jacob the opportunity to transform their lives through Special Olympics.

By Michele Evans, Director of Communications

Team Finds It Has the Right Stuff for Southern Illinois Plane Pull


On Sept. 24, the Law Enforcement Torch Run partnered with Southern Illinois University’s School of Aviation to present the inaugural Southern Illinois Plane Pull hosted at the Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro.

Sixteen teams competed, each with 8 members playing tug-of-war against the SIU School of Aviation’s 737 weighing more than 60,000 pounds. More than $25,600 was raised for the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois. Awards were given to the fastest pull in each division, fastest pull overall, top fundraising team and team spirit.


Members of the Wright Stuff pull the plane at Southern Illinois Plane Pull

One of the participating teams was The Wright Stuff of Mascoutah. Affiliated with Scott Air Force Base, the team was led by Alice Howe and consisted of 8 military veterans and friends. The members were Alice Howe, Brenda Reed, Blair Reed, Ada Sinclair, Steve Eller, Cathy Stubbs, Mark Baker and Lindy Baker.

The Wright Stuff has a long history with Special Olympics Illinois. Alice Howe grew up in a family where sports played a big role. “When my son was diagnosed (with autism), I thought sports in the future was lost, but it just went in another direction,” said Howe. “When I found Special Olympics, I had to become a coach and learn to teach others like my son how much fun sports can be in your life.”

Teams were split into three divisions – Public Safety (for law enforcement, corrections and fire departments), Open (for general public) and SIU (for teams affiliated with the university). The Wright Stuff, participating in the Open Division, pulled the 60,000-pound plane 12 feet down the runway in 11.28 seconds.

“We just wanted to move the plane an inch,” Howe said. Not only did they do that, they pulled so quickly, they earned second place in the Open Division.

“This was such an awesome experience to help the athletes.”

By Sydney Velez, Communications intern

Chicagoland Residents, Law Enforcement Officials to Participate in Plane Pull at O’Hare Airport


Participants Test ‘Tug-of-War’ Skills by Pulling 90-Ton Plane to Benefit Special Olympics Illinois

CHICAGO, Ill.  – Teams of local law enforcement agencies and the general public will participate in a larger than life tug-of-war challenge at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. They will face off with either a UPS Airbus A300 or United Airlines 737 aircraft at O’Hare International Airport for the benefit of Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull includes teams from law enforcement agencies, fire departments, private companies, high schools, colleges, fraternal groups and teams of friends and family. The Opening Ceremony is at 8 a.m.

“It’s great to see people supporting Special Olympics programs in Illinois and we’re excited to see them test their strength against a 90-ton airplane,” said Matt Johnson, Special Olympics Illinois Vice President – Development & Donor Relations. “In addition to those participating in the Plane Pull, we encourage family and friends to join in the spirit by supporting their loved ones and Special Olympics programs by making a donation to Special Olympics Illinois by visiting”

Registration is now open online at

Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10., when team captains can turn in their donations and pick up their T-shirts and other materials. New teams can still sign up that morning.

The event will be held on the tarmac next to the United Airlines Cargo Facility located on the south airfield of O’Hare International Airport. The area is located in between two East-West parallel runways – offering a unique perspective of planes arriving and taking off on one of the world’s busiest airfields.

Teams will be divided into three different divisions – Open Division is ideal for companies, school teams, church groups, clubs, friends and families; Public Safety Division is for law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, DNR, DOC and military personnel; and the Hotel Division created by popular demand. Each team of 20 will attempt to pull the plane a distance of 12 feet, with the top finisher from each division facing off for one final pull to determine the Grand Champion. To participate, each team is asked to raise a minimum of $1,000 ($50 per person) for Special Olympics Illinois. Teams raising more will be eligible for incentive prizes at the $2,500, $4,000 and $6,000 levels.

UPS and United Airlines are Presenting Sponsors of the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull. Other sponsors are Chicago Department of Aviation, City of Chicago, HMS Host, Durham School Services, Barilla Pasta, IlliniCare Health, FOX 32 Chicago, TD Ameritrade and Home Run Inn.  Because Special Olympics athletes compete free of charge, all money raised by the Plane Pull will directly assist in their training and competition.

“The Chicago Department of Aviation is honored and proud to once again partner with Special Olympics Illinois, UPS and United Airlines to host this unique and exciting community event at O’Hare International Airport,” said Ginger S. Evans, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation. “I want to thank all of the volunteers and participants who come out each year to support this event and help raise funds for Special Olympics.”

All media must RSVP in advance by contacting Gregg Cunningham by phone at 773-686-3700 or by email via

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the single largest year-round fundraising vehicle benefiting Special Olympics Illinois. The annual intrastate relay and its various fundraising projects have two goals: to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised $40 million over 30 years while increasing awareness of Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments.

Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 19 sports for more than 22,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 20,000 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics changes lives by empowering people with intellectual disabilities to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support.  If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562 or visit our website at

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Alexandra McMillin, Special Olympics Illinois, 630-942-5621

Michele Evans, Special Olympics Illinois, 309-660-8497

Chicago Department of Aviation,, 773-686-3700