Archive Stories

Donate to get your Special Olympics Holiday Ornament!


Give $65 or more today and we’ll ship the first-ever Special Olympics ornament right to your home. Better yet? Your donation can get an athlete everything they need to train, compete, and win in 2020!

Hurry and order today to get your ornament before the holidays!

Please allow 2-3 weeks for shipping.

2019 MedFest a Huge Success


On November 6, 2019, the United Center hosted the 21st Annual Special Olympics Illinois MedFest. The 2019 MedFest brought over 1,700 aspiring and current Special Olympics athletes from across the city of Chicago to the United Center.

Athletes received free sports physicals from over 100 health professionals from Advocate Medical Group. Since its inception, an outstanding 29,000 exams have been given.

MedFest provides Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District, and Independent Agencies the opportunity to receive a complete – and completely free – sports physical from our medical partners at Advocate Medical Group.

Once a physical examination indicates the individual is healthy, the athlete is cleared to begin training, competition, and routine physical activity expected for participation in his or her sport.

Beyond the free sports physical, MedFest introduces athletes to a variety of health initiatives such as Opening Eyes and Healthy Habits Stations (Hydration & Physical Activity).

Opening Eyes provided by Lions International supplied over 170 athletes free eye exams and eyewear. The Hydration Station saw around 300 athletes. There, athletes learned about healthy drink choices.

The Physical Activity station was a massive hit for athletes. Athletes chose from a variety of exercises such as jumping jacks or pushup then competed to see how many of each activity they could complete in 30 seconds. Additionally, athletes learned other healthy tips such as limiting TV time and getting a good night’s rest.

MedFest and its’ 21 years of entirety could not be what it is today without dedicated volunteers. Over 200 people volunteered this year alone– stemming from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Ridgewood High School, St. Rita High School, United Airlines, United Center, and Walgreens, to name a few.

From donating the venue space to the event production, hospitality, medial, and security staff, the United Center sources a volunteer base from many different departments making them an integral part of the success of the event.

“Volunteering at Special Olympics Illinois’s MedFest is such a rewarding experience,” said Robert Reynolds – an employee at Walgreens headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois.

Robert has been involved with MedFest for a couple of years. He was so enthralled by the event and its’ impact he later proposed the idea of volunteering to his colleagues at Walgreens.

 “The best part of MedFest is, without a doubt, the athletes– their smiles, joy, and high-fives.” Robert encouraged his colleagues, like Kaenye Prince, to join him.

“This year is my second year of volunteering at MedFest,” explained Kaenye.

“I volunteer to give back to the community, yet I leave MedFest with a renewed sense of joy and fulfillment, which comes from the athletes, and the daily obstacles they may face.”

MedFest would not be possible without the continuous support of The United Center, Advocate Medical Group, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Levy Restaurants, Jewel Osco, and Astellas, local high schools -St. Rita and Ridgewood. These partners have dedicated their time and staff to MedFest for 21 incredible years.

State Bowling Championships


What is State Bowling?

State Bowling is one of 9 state sports competitions. It is the culminating competition for those participating in bowling. State Bowling is hosted at Landmark Lanes in Peoria.


State Bowling is a stand alone competition and serves as a showcase for our bowling athletes to demonstrate the skills they have learned throughout the year. Everyone is encouraged to attend this premiere state tournament so make sure you don’t miss this great event!


Volunteers are needed in a variety of roles at our State Bowling competition. Please click on the link below to check out all the available shifts and register to volunteer!


Tentative Competition Times

All times listed below are tentative and subject to change once event specific schedules are determined. Times only reflect actual competition times and do not include time frames for coach meetings, weigh-in times, etc. For a final schedule please check the Supporting Documents section close to competition day.

  • Saturday: 9:45 – 3:00pm


A family hospitality area will be available at State Bowling. The family area will be open from 8 am until 1 pm and refreshments will be served. Please encourage family members to visit the Family Hospitality Area and register or check-in to let us know they are here. Family members can meet and visit with other families and receive information on what is new at Special Olympics Illinois and also have the opportunity to win a prize from the raffle. Most of all, they can have fun, relax and watch their athletes have a great experience.

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony will take place on the lanes beginning at 9 am on Saturday. We ask that all first shift bowlers be on the lanes before the ceremony begins. All other athletes, coaches and spectators should be seated in the chairs or bleachers behind the lanes.


Souvenir hours are 9:00am – 2:00pm.  Items range from $1 to $55 and will include clothing and other traditional souvenir items. The vendor will sell State Bowling Tournament specific t-shirts and sweatshirts.  Cash and most major credit cards will be accepted for souvenir sales.  CHECKS ARE NOT ACCEPTED.  Souvenir items are offered by Minerva Promotions and a percentage of sales are given to Special Olympics Illinois.

Receive 15% off of all preorders when you spend $50 or more.  You can save time and pre-order items and pick them up on-site.  If you want to personalize any items then you must pre-order them.  On-site customization is not offered at the tournament.  Please click here: (Bowling Interactive Souvenir Flier Interactive SO BOWLING 2019 LINK or go to to view items and submit your preorder.


In case of inclement weather, schedule changes or cancellations check the website here for updates. Please sign up for the text alert.  This alert will send you any last minute changes in the State Bowling schedule.  To register, please text “Bowling” to the number 844-393-0980.

Supporting Documents

Interactive Souvenir Flier SO BOWLING 2019 LINK

2019 Bowling Agency List

2019 State Bowling Handbook Memo

2019 State Bowling Event Handbook

2019 Peoria Area Hotel Listing

Lisa Menichino Kicks off the CCIW Women’s Tennis Championship with the Opening Serve


Saturday, October 19, marked an exciting day for long-time tennis player Lisa Menichino. Lisa kicked off the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Women’s Tennis Championship with an honorary serve.

She has been competing with Special Olympics Illinois since 1985. Lisa cherishes Special Olympics for many reasons, some of which provided Lisa the opportunity to play sports, including tennis.

Lisa was honored to take part in such an inclusive event. The experience was exhilarating as it was her first time at a tennis championship of this caliber.

“The CCIW was honored to have Special Olympics Illinois athlete Lisa Menichino on hand to kick off the final day of the 2019 CCIW Women’s Tennis Championship on October 19,” CCIW Assistant Executive Director Mike Krizman said.

At the event, Lisa said a few inspiring words to the crowd, wished the group good luck, and prepared for her honorary serve.

Lisa’s 20 years of tennis experience did not let her down as she served to Carroll University’s No. 1 singles player, Grace Krueger.

“She truly embodies all of the wonderful traits that being a Special Olympics athlete is all about, and we were honored to have her as our guest.”

Special Olympics Illinois and CCIW built a partnership in 2012. The connection was established through a bocce ball clinic between Special Olympics Illinois and the CCIW Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). The clinic is held annually in conjunction with CCIW’s end-of-the-year SAAC meeting.

“We’re proud of our partnership with Special Olympics Illinois,” Krizman continued. “The CCIW looks forward to growing that partnership through additional collaboration and participation in the future.”

View Lisa’s Honorary Serve here!

SO Athlete, Nick Lorenz wins Humanitarian Award from Marcus Theatres


It is with such pride to hear stories about how Special Olympics Illinois (SOILL) grows the confidence of athlete’s well-being off the field of play, helping them achieve such great things at school, in social circles, and in the workplace. So, when Nick Lorenz won The 2019 Ben Marcus Humanitarian Award from Marcus Theatres for his commitment and customer service to the organization, it was well deserved, and fits Nick’s energetic personality. Another key criteria to selecting award winners is finding exceptional associates who have gone above and beyond in their volunteering for others. Not only is Nick a Special Olympics Illinois athlete of 16 years (Basketball, Volleyball, Golf, Swimming, Bocce Ball, Bowling and Track & Field), but he goes above and beyond for SOILL as a competitor, a fundraiser, and a volunteer. Separate of Special Olympics Illinois, Nick is a volunteer for Lincoln Way Special Recreation Association, and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Marcus Theatres is a division of The Marcus Corporation that is the fourth largest theater circuit in the Unites States and currently owns or operates 1,106 screens at 91 locations in 17 states. One location is in Orland Park, Illinois, where Nick has worked for three

years doing everything from taking tickets, to helping in the lobby and concession area, to customer service. “I like helping customers find their theater and helping them at concessions with the pop machine. I like working with all of my co-workers.”, Nick says.

As his parents, Pam and Scott say, “He loves his job at Marcus and feels like he is a big part of the community.” They site Special Olympics Illinois as a big contributor to their son’s confidence and continued outgoing personality, “It has helped Nick become a stronger person, both mentally and physically, (it has) taught him how to handle both winning and losing the right way. Since becoming a Global Messenger, with Special Olympics Illinois, his self-confidence has grown immensely.”

Congratulations to you, Nick for proving what you can do in sport, at work, and in the community. Being a Global Messenger is one part of the Special Olympics Athlete Leadership Program, and by winning this award, you are showing what it is to be a leader for all of us. Keep up the great work!

(Pictured left, Nick Lorenz and Greg Marcus, President and CEO of The Marcus Corporation.)