Uncategorized Stories

Agency Return To Play Information


Starting on July 6th, Special Olympics Illinois Agencies and Athletes have the opportunity to begin organized activities. Click to read more!

A Father’s Pride in What His Son Has Given Him


How do you want to be remembered? Or better yet, will you be remembered?

My approach has long been to leave this world better than when I first entered it. Certainly that’s a gigantic task that comes with many options and challenges. And I must admit my personal path to making a difference really didn’t become clear until my younger son, Matthew, came into my life 21 years ago.

Matt was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 and it immediately disrupted many of the plans my wife, Karyn, and I had for him. But those were OUR plans. What was Matt looking at? What was he hoping for? What was important to realize — and accept — was that as parents our job was to give Matt and his older brother, Mark, every opportunity to maximize their skills and abilities and introduce them to their respective possibilities. Thankfully, Karyn made sure none of us never lost that focus.

Matt didn’t verbally communicate to us in words that made sense until he was 6 years old, but we began to sense his capabilities and likes early on. Everything seemed to point toward sports – following in this former sportswriter’s footsteps, except Matt was a much better athlete even back then than I ever was. The question became how do we get him involved with appropriate programming and with other children who have special needs?

That’s where Special Olympics Illinois came into the picture. And that’s when I personally began to understand what my purpose in life would be. Through the Special Olympics programs offered by Lincolnway Special Recreation Association in New Lenox, Ill., a whole new world of opportunity was presented to Matt – and to me. Matt had the chance to participate in numerous Special Olympics activities and it enabled me to be there with him as a volunteer parent – especially in basketball, a sport I’ve had the pleasure of refereeing now for 43 years. That’s when I found the path to making that difference.

Over the years I’ve not only been able to watch Matt blossom into a gold medal champion in numerous Special Olympics sports, but have actually been directly involved in some of those activities as a basketball referee, softball umpire and volleyball official. And, of course, there are countless other programs I’ve had a chance to volunteer for over the years.

The ironic part of it all is in my attempt to give back through Matt, I’ve received so much more in return. It seems unfair at times, but that’s the reality of it all. Had it not been for Matt introducing me to the world of Special Olympics, in no way would I have discovered all of the cool opportunities that were available to me out there. For instance, I currently assist Special Olympics Illinois and the Illinois High School Association in driving awareness of persons with abilities and increasing volunteerism within all SOILL-IHSA Unified sports and activities. The number of volunteer referees for both traditional and Unified Basketball are on the rise because of this emerging partnership.

I currently assist Special Olympics Illinois and the Illinois High School Association in driving awareness of persons with abilities and increasing volunteerism within all SOILL-IHSA Unified sports and activities. The number of volunteer referees for both traditional and Unified Basketball are on the rise because of this emerging partnership.

There’s also my involvement with Special Olympics and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. I’m currently working with SOILL and IBCA’s executive team so that someday soon, hopefully, IBCA’s Hall of Fame will also open its doors to Special Olympics Illinois athletes, coaches, officials, and friends.

Personally, there probably has not been no greater honor and privilege than being invited to referee the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Sharing the same court with another veteran Special Olympics Illinois referee, Jerry Blum, and officiating games involving teams from many parts of the globe will always be my pinnacle. I’ll forever remember the warm smiles, hugs, and high fives from all involved. And then joining Blum to referee the celebrity basketball game that features the likes of James Worthy, Dikembe Mutumbo, Glenn “Doc” Rivers, Sam Perkins, and others was the ultimate thrill.

But the most poignant moment in L.A. came during the Summer Games Opening Ceremonies at the Coliseum. I looked over to Matt and realized this was HIS party, these were HIS people and this time we were HIS guests. His eyes were as big as silver dollars as the parade of nations and dignitaries made their collective way onto the field.

Recognize a recurring theme here? While trying to create a better life experience for Matt and his Special Olympics colleagues through volunteering, I’ve received so much more in return when I wasn’t expecting anything.

That is what makes Special Olympics so great and special. This is why I’m so passionate about the cause. This is why I strongly invite everyone who hasn’t already done so to consider sharing their time and expertise with this wonderful organization.

This is what I hope you will remember.

By Bob Reczek

2020 Virtual Summer Games


The virtual event will take place Tuesday, June 9 – Sunday, June 14.  Activities are being planned for each day for athletes, coaches, volunteers, and other members of the Special Olympics Illinois community to enjoy.

Save the Date for the 2020 Special Olympics Illinois Virtual Summer Games!

Stay tuned here and on our social media channels for more information as it becomes available, including the full schedule of events.

Until then, you can RSVP for Virtual Summer Games on Facebook. Plus, souvenirs are available now! Orders placed by May 28 will ship on June 3.  A free shipping option will be available to select after you enter your shipping address.

No matter the season, #SOILLStandsTogether!

Northwestern University to Lend Support for Upcoming SUPER Plunge


After the gold medals have been won and the teams leave Chestnut Mountain, Special Olympics Illinois sets forth on a new challenge – one that dares you to be bold and get cold for athletes across the state. It’s the annual Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge!

Last year, nearly 7,000 warm-hearted individuals raised $2,000,000 from February to March. In 2020, those brave enough will have the opportunity to take the frigid leap at 25 different locations throughout Illinois – beginning in Peoria on February 15.

Special Olympics Illinois relies on dedicated LETR members in Illinois for these events—members like Detective Robbi Peterson.

Peterson started attending Law Enforcement Torch Run events in 2008 before eventually becoming the West Chicago Police Department’s LETR liaison. Finding inspiration at the LETR Kick-Off in early 2009, he and his daughter Taylor began taking the Polar Plunge.

“We raised a little over $600 between the two of us,” Peterson explained. “Each year we tried to top the previous and eventually her younger siblings, Isabella and Jayden, joined us.  I also pressured a few co-workers over the years and our group continued to grow.”

After Peterson attended his first International LETR conference in Nashville, he felt further motivated to support Special Olympics.

“The message I received was, ‘What can I do to make it bigger and better?’” 

Peterson’s answer? The SUPER Plunge.

He will be starting his third SUPER Plunge on February 21. The league of nearly 60 SUPER Plungers will jump into Lake Michigan once an hour for 24 hours.

Over the past three years Peterson has joined the SUPER Plunge Committee and aids the group in finding ways to make the event bigger, better, and most importantly more fun for those participating. This year, he had the idea to give thanks and recognize Northwestern University – who unofficially host the event on their campus lakefront.

“I recall last year standing outside getting ready to take a plunge at 9 p.m. and looked up toward the lit up fieldhouse and the entire women’s field hockey team was standing near the window watching us and cheering us on,” Peterson recalls.

“That was pretty cool.” 

Through social media, Haley Zimmerman (the Athletic Trainer for the Northwestern Women’s Volleyball team and friend of Peterson) caught wind of the SUPER Plunge and came to see for herself what it was all about.

“After a few weeks I was already starting to think about next year’s SUPER Plunge. I reached out to Haley and asked about reception I might receive from staff or athletes if we looked at doing an hour where we honored Northwestern.”

A few weeks post-2019 SUPER Plunge, Peterson’s wheels were turning and with Zimmerman’s help the pair secured support from the athletic department. This year, the Women’s Assistant Volleyball Coach, Kevin Moore has agreed to jump with the SUPER Plungers during an early-evening hour of the event, and the volleyball team will come out to support him.

As part of this “Northwestern Hour” additional student athletes, staff and Willie the Wildcat will be on-site to pump up the SUPER Plunge and lend their encouragement to this outstanding group. Special Olympics Illinois athletes from Evanston Special Recreation will join in the fun, too.

When asked why he finds Special Olympics Illinois so important, Peterson laughs because he thinks it should be so obvious.

“To see these athletes grow in confidence and skill, year after year, due to the opportunities provided to them through Special Olympics Illinois is so rewarding.”  

He continues, “Knowing that the little piece we do for them can have life-changing effects is one of the most satisfying things a person can be a part of.”

Each SUPER Plunger is asked to raise a minimum of $2,500 to participate in this extreme event. Registration is now open for all Plunges statewide. For those interested in signing up or making a donation, please visit www.plungeillinois.com or by contact Jim Fitzpatrick via jfitzpatrick@soill.org.

“My involvement with Special Olympics Illinois thru the LETR is something I take great pride in,” says Peterson.

“I can’t think of any reason why Special Olympics Illinois isn’t important.”

Director – Salesforce Administrator


The Director – Salesforce Administrator will lead the ongoing development of our salesforce.org
deployment. The successful candidate will have a record of success in improving processes and
adoption using the Salesforce platform. The administrator will work closely with functional
leaders, organizational units, and subject matter experts to identify develop and deploy new
business processes including: Fundraising, Marketing, Outreach and our core program business
processes. This role is part technical project manager, part administrator and part Salesforce
analyst. The Director – Salesforce Administrator will be responsible for the executing on the
day-to-day configuration, support, maintenance and improvement of Special Olympics Illinois’s CRM

Director Core Roles:
● Scope of Responsibility: Fully competent professional in particular field of specialization (5
– 8 years); Bachelor’s degree is required. Team Member possesses and applies a broad knowledge of
principles, practices and procedures of particular field of specialization to the completion of
difficult assignments. This category includes experts in a particular field who deliver a job that
is key to the organization. Team Members in these positions would typically contribute through
their people leadership and have full responsibility over all elements of a subgroup, function or
project within a department of the organization. They have appreciable latitude for un-reviewed
action or decision. Team Members may act in a liaison capacity with other departments and
organizations and they provide management oversight that is critical to the organization’s ability
to function.
● Conduct: Director-level Team Members must demonstrate the mission, vision and values of
Special Olympics Illinois through consistent adherence to Special Olympics Illinois’ Values &
Behaviors; by exercising a high level of cooperative, friendly and effective teamwork skills; by
resolving conflict directly, effectively and professionally; and by committing to support and be
helpful to other Team Members and departments within the organization.
● Performance: Satisfactory work performance requires consistently strong work product output,
including the successful execution and completion of all job duties and goals; autonomy, ownership,
competence and excellence of work product; innovation and process improvement; effective resource
management; professional development; and compliance with accepted organizational and legal rules,
regulations and policies.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities:

• Serve as primary system administrator for the Salesforce.org environment with 85+ users
• Handle all basic administrative functions including user account maintenance, reports and
dashboards, workflows and other routine tasks
• Complete regular internal system audits and prepare for upgrades
• Manage Salesforce.org data feeds and other integrations
• Coordinate the evaluation, scope and completion of new development requests.
• Work with team to establish suitable processes to support administrative, development, and
change management activities
• Assist in training of new users, and grow the Salesforce.org skill set across the
• Effectively act as the liaison between our users, vendors and the application development
• Work independently with members of the user community to define and document development
• Keeps current with the latest technologies and develop requests for proposals on new
• Develops business case justifications and cost/benefit analyses for new process
• Develops and implement all policies and procedures for our Salesforce environment, including
those for architecture, security, standards, and service provision
• Negotiates and administer vendor, outsourcer and consultant contracts and service agreements.
• Establishes and maintain regular written and in-person communications with the organization’s
executives, department heads and end users regarding pertinent Salesforce activities and usage.
• Diagnoses and resolves technical problems, prevents problem escalation and provides solution
• Ability to critically evaluate information gathered from multiple sources, reconcile
conflicts, decompose high-level information into details, abstract up from low-level information to
a general understanding, and distinguish user requests from the underlying true needs
• Ability to assess the impact of new requirements on Salesforce.org and all upstream and
downstream applications, systems and processes

Preferred Qualifications:

• Minimum two years of experience as a Salesforce.com administrator
• Salesforce.com Admin (ADM201 and ADM211) certified
• Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Developer certifications preferred
• Proven ability to design and implement new processes and facilitate user adoption.
• Strong understanding of the platform, with the ability to build custom apps and objects,
formula fields, workflows, custom views, and other content of intermediate complexity
• Strong understanding of Salesforce.com best practices and functionality
• Strong data management abilities
• A documented history of successfully driving projects to completion
• A demonstrated ability to understand and articulate complex requirements
• Experience with nonprofit processes preferred
• Previous experience working in a SCRUM or agile environment preferred
• Comprehensive understanding of network architecture and client/server technology
• Ability to work effectively in areas of ambiguity and capable of creating solutions to complex
• Excellent communication skills.

Work Schedule:
● Based out of Headquarters Office in Normal, IL/Remote
● Reports to Senior Director – Technology
● Monday through Friday with evenings and weekends as position demands
● Schedule includes occasional travel to Field offices and other venues

Please send resume to euphoff@soill.org