July 2014 Newsletter


Athletes&Families Coaches Volunteers YoungAthletes AreaNews TorchRun Give


Champions at Summer Games & USA Games

Special Olympics athletes around the state just finished up a month of great competition, sportsmanship and social experiences at both the 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games and 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.

Athletes from District 54 Schools compete in bocce at Summer Games.

Athletes from District 54 Schools compete in bocce at Summer Games.

A Tribute to Champions kicked off Summer Games on the evening of June 12 at Tribute Park where all types of champions – athletes, parents, coaches, volunteers and sponsors –  for the organization were honored. Then a record number of athletes competed in six sports at Summer Games June 13-15 in Bloomington-Normal. The organization saw a number of firsts at Summer Games – more than 4,000 athletes competed in one of seven sports; a Mobile App informed all 1,775 users who signed up about what was happening over the weekend; St. Louis Rams punter Johnny Hekker awarded medals, participated in the Final Leg of Torch Run and declared the Games open; and Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a bill creating a scratch-off lottery ticket to benefit Special Olympics Illinois! View photos and check out results from Summer Games.

Emily Eisenmenger competes in the running long jump at USA Games.

Emily Eisenmenger competes in the running long jump at USA Games.

And, just as Summer Games was finishing, 52 athletes, 6 Unified Partners and 17 coaches from Illinois were in New Jersey for the start of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. Athletes competed in aquatics, athletics, bocce, bowling, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, Unified soccer and volleyball. In addition to competing, Team Illinois attended a Trenton Thunder baseball game, took a boat tour of New York City coast and circled around the Statue of Liberty, enjoyed individual Sports Showcases often attended by sports celebrities and enjoyed a Jersey Shore boardwalk experience at Olympic Town. View photos, read daily newsletters and check out results from USA Games.

Darling Ducklings Busy Selling Adoptions for Derby

L-R: Dave Breen, Nick Lorenz, Jack Klawitter, Jose Moreno, Mike Adamle and Ela Stoklosa

L-R: Dave Breen, Nick Lorenz, Jack Klawitter, Splash, Jose Moreno, Mike Adamle and Ela Stoklosa at Ducky Derby Kickoff

Nick Lorenz, Dave Breen, Jack Klawitter, Splash, Jose Moreno, Mike Adamle and Ela Stoklosa at Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby Kickoff

Last year, the Darling Ducklings Sales Team was a force to be reckoned with. This group of 33 athletes, led by Special Olympics Illinois staff member Leona Brescher, sold almost 6,500 ducks which far exceeded their goal of 5,000 ducks. Their teamwork and dedication helped them raise $32,000 for the Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby which benefits Special Olympics Illinois.

This year, they’ve upped their goal to 7,000 and their newest team member, Nick Lorenz, is certainly doing what he can to help them succeed!

Each member of the team was charged with selling 50 duck adoptions each. Currently, Nick is the top salesperson for the Darling Ducklings with more than 600 ducks sold!

Read more

Enjoy a “Free” Lunch at Texas Roadhouse on July 25

Texas Roadhouse restaurants will be teaming up with local law enforcement officers on Friday, July 25, for a Benefit Lunch to support Special Olympics Illinois.

Local officers will serve a “free” lunch of a limited menu from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.  This exclusive lunch includes a pulled pork sandwich, corn, freshly baked bread with honey-cinnamon butter and a non-alcoholic beverage.  Diners are simply asked to leave a donation at their table for their meal, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Special Olympics Illinois!  This Texas Roadhouse Benefit Lunch is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which is the largest year-round fundraising vehicle benefiting Special Olympics Illinois.

All 14 Texas Roadhouse locations in Illinois will be participating, which includes: Bradley, Champaign, Countryside, Crystal Lake, Decatur, East Peoria, Edwardsville, Joliet, Naperville, Quincy, Rockford, Shiloh (O’Fallon), Springfield and Tinley Park.  Be sure to stop by the location nearest you to enjoy a great meal for a great cause! View benefit flyer

Jewel-Osco “Change for Champions” in July

Jewel-Osco is one of our newest partners, and this July, they will be launching a register campaign through their “Making Change” donation program called “Change for Champions” in support of Special Olympics Illinois.

FB-specialolympicsfThis program will run from July 1-31 at 185 Jewel-Osco locations and customers will be encouraged to make a $1, $3 or $5 donation.

“Change for Champions” will feature our very own Kristen McInerney, who is a Special Olympics Illinois Board Member, Global Messenger, athlete and employee of Jewel-Osco.

Jewel-Osco’s vision is to be the favorite neighborhood food and drug retailer in every community they serve, with helpful associates, competitive prices and high-quality, fresh products.

Jewel-Osco will also be the Presenting Sponsor of the Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby for the first time this year.  Their logo will be displayed at all Duck Derby events, in all of the Duck Derby brochures and on the flags that line Michigan Avenue the week leading up to the Duck Derby event.

Please join Special Olympics Illinois in thanking all of the Jewel-Osco team members by stopping by your local store and showing your support.  View Jewel-Osco locations in Illinois.

More Top News

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They Came, They Saw … They Purchased Bricks

Grasshoppers_TPMany families, teams, staff and supporters came out to visit Tribute Park while they were in Normal for the State Summer Games, June 13-15. The beautiful weather made for a perfect backdrop on the weekend full of great competition, inspiring achievements, lots of activities and folks reuniting and catching up.

It was exciting to see families who had never been to Tribute Park be inspired to be a part of the one-of-a-kind park and TP_familymake the decision to purchase a brick for their son or daughter.

Additionally, many new bricks were engraved just prior to Summer Games this year including a memorial brick for Opal Asbury, mother of Bill Asbury, whose family coincidentally received the Outstanding Family of the Year Award this year at the Summer Games Reception.

TP_KoC_1The Illinois Knights of Columbus held their monthly meeting in conjunction with Summer Games at the Special Olympics Illinois headquarters offices and took time out of their schedule to stroll around the park and pose for a picture with the bronze family statue “The First Ribbon” that they purchased for Special Olympics Illinois in 2007 as a memorable tribute to all families.

Thank you to all who stopped by the Tribute Park! For more information on purchasing a brick for an athlete, family, coach, or a memorial brick, please contact Karen Milligan at 309-888-2551. You can also visit the Tribute Park page for more info or download a Tribute Park flyer.

Hickory Hills Resident – Outstanding Athlete

Johnny Damme, 18, of Hickory Hills was named 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Outstanding Athlete of the Year. He was honored at a reception June 13 before the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies at Illinois State University in Normal.

2014 Summer Games ReceptionThe Outstanding Athlete Award recognizes a Special Olympics Illinois athlete whose achievements, dedication and commitment to their team and themselves exemplifies the purpose of Special Olympics.

Johnny started in Special Olympics in 2003 when he was 8 years old. Johnny has competed in a variety of sports including basketball, swimming, alpine skiing, golf, soccer, floor hockey, bocce, athletics (track and field), tennis, and volleyball.

He always displays good sportsmanship while practicing or competing and always gives maximum effort, according to his nominees for the award. After competition, he always has a smile on his face, whether he has just won gold or took last place. Johnny is also a certified scuba diver and has dived 25 feet in the Florida Keys. He has also participates on a special needs ice hockey team, called the Tomahawks.

Johnny is employed at the Palos Community Hospital where he works in the cafeteria and kitchen. Special Olympics has assisted Johnny in being a good worker and he brings his various medals to show his classmates and coworkers.

Johnny’s accomplishments include winning more than 70 medals and ribbons in Special Olympics state and regional competitions. Johnny is also a Boy Scout and loves camping and volunteering for community service projects.

DuQuoin Residents – Outstanding Family

Bill, Jill, Caitlin, Lindsey and Brenna of Du Quoin have been named 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Outstanding Family of the Year. They were honored at a reception June 13 before the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies at Illinois State University in Normal.

2014 Summer Games ReceptionThe Outstanding Family Award recognizes a family with a Special Olympics athlete that has made unique and lasting contributions not only benefiting their athletes but also every aspect of the Special Olympics Illinois program.

Bill Asbury serves on the Polar Plunge Committee and the Spring Games Planning Committee. Bill Asbury was also named Citizen of the Year in Du Quoin, in 2013. This award was directly attributed to the work he is doing in Southern/Area 15 and the lives he has transformed along the way.

Bill and Jill’s youngest daughter, Brenna is the reason the Asbury family got involved in the Special Olympics. Breanna competes with Special Olympics Illinois in bocce, softball, aquatics, athletics (track and field) and gymnastics. She is also an ambassador for the local program and was featured in a PSA created as part of the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign. Brenna also sings “God Bless America” at local events and serves as a sponsor and team host at the Indoor Softball Fundraiser in Du Quoin.

Bill and Jill Asbury are always trying to give the athletes the most opportunities they can to experience all aspects of life.  Jill serves Area 15 as a key volunteer at local events and also serves on Family Committee as well.

In addition, the fundraising efforts of their family have helped the organization raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The Asbury family also started the Girls Indoor Winter Fast-Pitch Softball Tournament five years ago which has generated over $250,000 in its first five years including over $62,000 in 2013. Bill Asbury also started a Boy’s Baseball Winter Indoor Classic in 2013 that generated almost $9,000 in its first year.



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Pekin Residents – Outstanding Coaches

Barb and Larry Needham of Pekin have been named 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Outstanding Coaches of the Year. They were honored at a reception June 13 before the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies at Illinois State University in Normal.

2014 Summer Games ReceptionThe Outstanding Coach Award recognizes the coach who best demonstrates the true ideals of coaching profession, who leads by example and expects athletes to set and strive to reach goals. As a coach of Special Olympics Illinois athletes, he or she must demonstrate both technical skills and personal commitment to the physical, social and psychological well-being of the athletes.

Fans, friends, volunteers, fundraisers, supporters and coaches are just a few words that can be used to describe the Needhams.  For more than 26 years, they have dedicated their lives to helping individuals with intellectual disabilities.  In 2002, Barb and Larry Needham won Outstanding Volunteers of the Year.

It is the passion, strength and courage that they bring with their involvement that has made a world of difference to so many athletes over the years.  The Needhams are more than just coaches.  They are friends, confidants and supporters to every athlete they coach. They not only coach them in sports, but also in life.  It is by their example and strength that the athletes are able to overcome some of their most trying moments.

Barb coached speed skating with Team Illinois for the World Winter Games in 1989, 1997, 2005 and 2009. Larry was a speed coach for Team USA for the 2001 World Winter Games and was the Figure Skating coach for Team USA in 2009. In addition to coaching, Barb Needham has been the speech coach/mentor for athlete Judith Rich-Smith since 2005. She was also Judith’s mentor when Judith was a Special Olympics Illinois Board Member from 2010-2012. The Needhams also help with other Areas with their track and field competitions, District basketball and Area Bowling Qualifiers.

The Needhams are good coaches, great listeners and are always there for their athletes, said nominators for the award. “They are the epitome of what every coach, not just in Special Olympics but in all sports, should be.”


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Trio Develops Friendship Through Volunteering

Special Olympics creates strong friendships between athletes, volunteers and families. That’s true for volunteers Sarah Moss, 27, of Wood Dale; Tricia Brawley, 22, of Arlington Heights; and Vicky Plikas, 32, of Mount Prospect.

L-R: Tricia Brawley,

Even though each had volunteered with Special Olympics for several years, the three women had never crossed paths until they met at a North Suburban Cook/Area 18 volunteer committee meeting last fall. “We were the youngest people in the committee and that’s how we bonded,” explained Brawley.

The trio found they had all volunteered for Special Olympics for several years and had teaching in common. Brawly, who starts a teaching job at Easter Seals in Chicago this fall, has volunteered for Special Olympics for six years starting in high school and continuing through her college career. Plikas, an early childhood special education teacher, has volunteered for four years, and Moss, who works in teacher benefits, has volunteered for three years. Read More

Dixon Resident – Outstanding Volunteer

Christine Scheffler of Dixon has been named 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Outstanding Volunteer of the Year.  She was honored at a reception June 13 before the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies at Illinois State University in Normal.

2014 Summer Games ReceptionThe Outstanding Volunteer Award recognizes an individual who through their voluntary efforts improve the quality of the Special Olympics Illinois Program to benefit all aspects of the organization.

Scheffler has been a Special Olympics volunteer for 21 years. She currently is employed as the Community Wellness Director at KSB Hospital in Dixon.

She began her career as a coach for Kreider Service, where she coached for four years. Scheffler coached athletics, bowling, basketball and volunteered at the Special Olympics Dinner Dance. She has served on the committee for the Pumpkin Walk and has volunteered for Spring Games, Bowling Tournament and the Polar Plunge. She has also been a member of the Kick Off The Holidays Celebration committee for 18 years. Her committee members have raised more than $600,000 for SOILL Northwestern/Area 1.

Not only is Scheffler committed to the athletes’ success, but her husband and two boys also volunteer. Plus, she has included her parents and guests willing to volunteer their time.

Decatur Resident – Lifetime Service Award

Rick Scholl of Decatur has been named recipient of 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Lifetime Service Award. He was honored at a reception June 13 before the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies at Illinois State University in Normal.

2014 Summer Games ReceptionThe Special Olympics Illinois Lifetime Service award is given to an outstanding individual who encompasses the spirit of Special Olympics Illinois and has shown their dedication to the organization and to serving its mission and goals. Awards are given based on nominee’s interest in and support of the abilities and accomplishments of SOILL athletes as demonstrated through significant contributions. The individual also needs to have at least 20 years of servicewith Special Olympics Illinois.

Scholl graduated from Illinois State University, Normal in 1979 with a degree in Physical Education and Health. He then received his master’s degree in Adaptive Physical Education. Rick began his teaching career as a teaching assistant and head track coach at Wheeling High School. He then accepted a position at Lincoln Developmental Center as an Adaptive Physical Education Instructor.

In 1987, he started teaching in Decatur where he has made it his main priority to get students with intellectual disabilities involved in Special Olympics. Every year, Rick and his wife Liesa bring 60 Special Olympics athletes to the Southern/Area 10 Spring Games, many for the first time. He has also served as a Special Olympics World Games coach. Rick has participated in the Polar Plunge to help raise awareness and money for several years.

For the past few years, Scholl and Life Skills teachers at both Decatur high schools conduct basketball games between the two schools throughout the school year. His students show off their basketball talents, while the audience cheers the players on. These basketball games show how important it is to show the athletes’ abilities and brings attention to the community that everyone has a very special ability they can bring day in and day out. These events are captured in the Decatur Herald & Review each year as “Good News Stories.”

Scholl and his wife, Liesa, are the parents of two sons.



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Hero Award Winner for Young Athletes

On June 27, Special Olympics Illinois recognized its everyday heroes in the Central Region at the 2014 Hero Awards reception at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. These awards are given to a person, family, group or business that has demonstrated exemplary commitment to SOILL, strengthening communities and improving the quality of life for SOILL athletes.

Kathleen O'Connell with Bailey Brenner

Kathleen O’Connell with Bailey Brenner

Kathleen O’Connell was honored on behalf of the Young Athletes Program. Kathleen is an adaptive physical education teacher in the Unit 5 School District. Kathleen has been a coach for Special Olympics for nearly 15 years and serves as the Special Olympics Athletic Director for Unit 5 Young Athletes Program for the past 6 years. If that wasn’t enough, she also took on the daunting task of being the Youth Activation Committee Chair for Project Unify.

Kathleen’s passion for Special Olympics and her athletes is contagious. Not only does she coordinate three Unit 5 Young Athletes schools but, she coaches her traditional athletes to compete for Gold in Unified Bocce, Basketball Individual Skills, Unified Soccer and Track and Field.

Kathleen has been working with individuals with special needs for nearly 20 years. She is constantly seeking new tactics and training to better herself for her students and athletes. Furthermore she does an amazing job of creating a caring and respectful environment where everyone can succeed. She gives her time and talent freely to help provide more opportunities for her athletes.

Young Athletes is lucky to have someone as committed as Kathleen.  We are so happy to have the opportunity to honor her and all of her hard work! Read More about other Central Region Hero Award winners

Save the Date: Outdoor Sports Festival

Summer Games has come to a close which means the Special Olympics Illinois Outdoor Sports Festival is up next! For the fifth year in a row, Young Athletes aged 6 and 7 will be invited to participate and showcase their talent in Decatur!  Young Athletes will have the opportunity to participate in softball individual skills (base running, throwing, fielding and hitting) or golf individual skills on Saturday, Sept. 13.

Last year, more than 600 Special Olympics Illinois traditional athletes took to the softball fields and golf course in the Decatur area.

If you are interested in having your Young Athlete attend, please complete a registration form and return it to the Special Olympics office before Monday, Aug. 11.

Athlete Spotlight – Bo Gill

Bo GillBo Gill is a caring and lovable 7-year-old from Morton.  He attends Lincoln Elementary and has been participating with Morton School District for the past two years. His favorite activity is the 50-meter run. Really, any time he gets to run, he loves it!

“This program is awesome!” says Christine Bo, Gill’s mother. “We have never been involved with any type of program like this before. To watch Bo at all the different events, be cheered on and accepted by other athletes, peers, volunteers and spectators is incredible. Special Olympics has truly opened our eyes to what Bo is capable of and proven that everyone is important and has a gift to share with the world.”

Bo Gill 2

Bo Gill, center, with fellow Young Athletes

Bo is a Young Athlete who practices with a traditional agency to participate at state- and Area-level exhibitions for Young Athletes. He has attended Summer Games and Spring Games participating in athletics (tennis ball throw and 50-meter run).

Bailey Brenner, Manager of the Young Athletes Program says, “Bo is such a pleasure to work with.  At every event, he shows pure athleticism and passion for playing sports.  He does an unbelievable job!”

When Bo isn’t working on his running skills he also likes to play baseball, watch soccer and he loves swimming.  He also started to take golf lessons and has begun training for downhill skiing! Bo has two sisters and a brother and recently became an uncle!

We’re so excited to have such a great Young Athlete and family involved with the Young Athletes Program and can’t wait to see what is in store for him in the future!


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Areas 2, 3, 5, 13 & 16

Pumpkin Pedal

Join the fun of the Pumpkin Pedal! This year’s 10-, 20- & 28-mile trail rides will be entirely on the Great Western Trail. The 40- & 65-mile road rides will be on roads but will utilize the same rest stops as the trail ride. They will all begin and end at Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve on Dean Street just west of Randall Road in St. Charles. This is a wonderful ride for families and serious riders.

If you pre-register to ride with 5 or more team riders, you will all receive long-sleeved T-shirts. When registering you must choose the team rider ticket option and include the team’s name. Without the team name on your registration, we won’t know you are a team rider and you won’t receive a long-sleeved T-shirt.

The start and finish for all the distances is Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and riders may start anytime between 7:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. The course will be cleared at 3 p.m. This event will take place rain or shine. If cancellation of the event is warranted due to dangerous weather conditions,
announcements will be made event day at the event site. A post-ride meal will be
served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A vegetarian option will be available.

For more information, contact Sandy Hutchins at 630-377-7250 or register here.

Area 3

Windy City Smokeout

windycitysmokeout_oneBub City is proud to announce the 2nd Annual Windy City Smokeout July 11–13.  This summer festival will bring together live country music and the best BBQ in the Chicagoland area. This outdoor festival will take place in the heart of downtown at 560 W. Grand Ave., Chicago (Grand and the Chicago River).

Special Olympics Illinois will share volunteers for all three days of the festival.  Each volunteer will be offered a $50 gift card to a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant which they can keep or donate to Special Olympics Illinois for its fundraising purposes. Each volunteer will also receive a Windy City Smokeout T-shirt to wear during their shift(s). Sign up to volunteer.

Area 6

Athletes, Volunteers Honored at State Farm Student-Athlete Banquet


Special Olympics Male Athlete of the Year Josiah Copass, Special Olympics Female Athlete Nominee Ally Davis and  Special Olympics Global Messenger Drew White at awards banquet

The Bloomington-Normal Area Sports Commission, a division of the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with State Farm, WJBC, You Name It Sports and Special Olympics Illinois, hosted the 7th Annual State Farm Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet on June 19 at the Chateau Hotel & Conference Center in Bloomington.

The banquet recognized outstanding scholar athletes, coaches, teams, volunteers and events in McLean County for their achievements on and off the field. The banquet also featured Washington High School football coach Darrell Crouch as the keynote speaker as well as a speech by Special Olympics athlete and Global Messenger Drew White.

Awards were presented in 12 categories to the following winners:

  • IMG_6003

    Jerry and Marcy Parsons

    Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year – Katey Davis

  • Special Olympics Male Athlete of the Year – Josiah Copass
  • Volunteers of the Year – Jerry & Marcy Parsons
  • Sports Event of the Year – Gymnastics Etc. Horton Invitational
  • Female Team of the Year – Normal West Girls Soccer
  • Male Team of the Year – Central Catholic Boys Basketball
  • Coach of the Year, Female Sport – Val Walker (Normal West Girls Soccer)
  • Coach of the Year, Male Sport – Josh Roop (Tri-Valley Football)
  • Female Scholar Athlete of the Year – Laura Crane (Prairie Central)
  • Male Scholar Athlete of the Year – Alexander Su (U-High)
  • Female Athlete of the Year – Rebekah Ehresman (El Paso-Gridley)
  • Male Athlete of the Year –  Kyrin Tucker (Normal West)

Area 9

Effingham County Lightning, ISP District 12 Carry the Flame

231The 2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run Leg 16 kicked off in Effingham at the Old County Courthouse on June 11. Troopers from the Illinois State Police District 12 Headquarters arrived early that day to stretch in preparation of the 26.8-mile run to Mattoon. Exuding excitement, the athletes of Special Olympics team Effingham County Lightning, who traditionally carry the Flame of Hope Torch in the first half-mile of the run, proudly donned their Torch Run T-shirts and prepared for kick-off.

233The Illinois State Police District 12 Headquarters has been an amazing sponsor and support for Special Olympics Illinois East Central/Area 9 athletes. They host the “Best Little Dam Run in Illinois” each year as a Torch Run fundraiser to support Special Olympics athletes, and troopers have awarded medals to the athletes at several of the Area sports competitions, including Spring Games, District Basketball and the Area 9 Bowling Tournament.  ISP Sgt. Devvie Hodge, coordinator of the Leg 16 Torch Run, said “We love to do this for the athletes.  It’s very rewarding for everyone.”

246Although overcast, weather provided cool breezes and held off rain as Troopers traveled from Effingham, through Sigel and Neoga, and finally reached Mattoon. While in Neoga on a brief rest, Troopers and law enforcement personnel visited with the athletes of Neoga Schools, who came out to show support during the Torch Run.  As the rain finally began, the Law Enforcement Torch Run Leg was ending. Athlete Anthony Sheehan of CCAR team and his father and Special Olympics Illinois Board Member Mark Sheehan met Troopers at the Mattoon McDonald’s as the run came to a finish.  To ensure that the Flame of Hope was carried forward, Sgt. Devvie Hodge handed it off to Anthony, who started the next Torch Run Leg by passing the torch to Deputy Chief Jason Taylor of the Mattoon Police Department.

Area 16

11th Annual Auction Set for Aug. 7

Special Olympics Illinois Starved Rock/Area 16 will hold its 11th Annual Auction from 6-9 p.m. Aug. 7 at Celebrations 150 in Utica.

The theme of the event is “Experience the Magic of Special Olympics.” Cost is $30 per person and includes a buffet dinner. The evening will include music by the Steve Sharp Band and magic by Cory.

There will be live & silent auction items as well as certificates for items including a wedding photography package; 2 units of seed corn; American Girl Chicago package; Cowboy & Tony’s Butt Shack BBQ party for 50; Right Spice After Work party for 20; Wolves hockey, hotel & dinner package; 2 Southwest airline tickets; Rusty Wallace Driving Experience at Chicagoland Speedway; and an iPad. In addition, there will be a raffle for a 39” TV.

For more information, contact Cheryl De Paepe at 815-220-8128 or go to area16auction.eventbrite.com for tickets.



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Flame of Hope Travels State During Annual Torch Run

From the various legs and routes throughout the state to the Final Leg and Opening Ceremonies, the Flame of Hope again burned brightly this year!

Photo by Sandy StoverApproximately 100 law enforcement personnel participated in this year’s Final Leg, which is the culmination of all Torch Run Legs from across Illinois.  This 2.5 mile run ended at the Special Olympics Illinois VIP Reception, where Torch Runners received a standing ovation for their efforts.  State Torch Run Director Eric Smith and Assistant Torch Run Director Tom Reasoner presented Special Olympics Illinois with a check for the estimated 2014 year-end fundraising total of this statewide effort – a whopping $3.5 million is expected to be raised by the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run!

After the reception, this group carried the torch into a packed Hancock Stadium, where the Flame of Hope was passed to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan from Jim MacRunnels of the Maple Park Police Department (last year’s top Torch Run fundraising department).  The flame, which was then presented to Illinois athletes competing at USA Games, ultimately ignited the cauldron to officially open Summer Games.

To all law enforcement in Illinois: Thank you for giving your time to raise awareness for Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments!  

Dunkin’ Donuts Cop on Rooftop Sets a Record

Photo by Thomas Doggett Photography

Photo by Thomas Doggett Photography

Police officers throughout Illinois staked out Dunkin’ Donuts rooftops on May 30 to heighten awareness and raise donations for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. It was a record-breaking year for the Cop on Rooftop event, with officers participating at 174 locations in Illinois and raising more than $420,000 – a first in both the number of locations and money raised!  The Crestwood Police Department was host to the top fundraising location, collecting more than $10,000 at their local Dunkin’.

Everyone who visited a participating Dunkin’ Donuts store and made a donation to the Torch Run received a free donut.  Individuals who donated at least $10 also received an Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run travel mug and coupon for free coffee.

2014 marked the 12th anniversary of this great partnership between Dunkin’ Donuts and the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run.  The Cop on Rooftop event has been a great success since its inception, raising more than $2 million for the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois!

Pull a Plane at O’Hare Airport this September

2013PlanePull-CP0553The 6th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run® Plane Pull at O’Hare International Airport is set for Saturday, Sept. 27.  Teams of 20 will test their muscle and play tug-of-war with a UPS Airbus A300 weighing more than 99 tons!

Law enforcement officers and fire departments, along with private companies, high schools, colleges, fraternal groups and teams of family and friends are all welcome to try pulling the plane in record time to win valuable prizes and official bragging rights!

Each team is required to raise $1,000 to participate (that’s only $50 per team member for a group of 20).  Each participant will receive an official Plane Pull T-shirt and lunch, with all event proceeds benefiting the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.

Interested in pulling for Special Olympics Illinois?  Visit www.illinoisplanepull.com for additional information.



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Color in Motion – Race Recap

Katelyn at CIM

Katelyn Grunewald, second from right, got colored at the Color in Motion 5K

More than 8,500 runners gathered at Chicago’s Montrose Beach on June 22 for the Color In Motion 5K, which benefited Special Olympics Illinois. All participants had a great time and got COLORFUL! Special Olympics athlete Katelyn Grunewald from Palatine got the honor of starting each wave of the race, leading the first 50 meters. It was an amazing experience for her and her family.

Michelle Dirks, Manager of Business Development and Partnerships at SOILL, volunteered for the event for the first time this year, said: “What an incredible event.  Families and friends of all ages running, strolling and walking – all with a common goal of having fun and getting covered in color.  It was exciting to witness the enthusiasm of the athletes and volunteers at my first Color in Motion 5K along Chicago’s lakefront. I saw so much silliness and heard so many laughs, I can’t wait until next year!”

The Color In Motion 5K would not have been a success without all of the amazing volunteers that came out to help! If you are looking to volunteer or for more information on any Special Olympics Illinois events, click here.

Durham School Services – Outstanding Organization

Durham School Services has been named 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Outstanding Organization of the Year. Carina Noble, Kimberly Isley-Pesto and John Elliot accepted the award at a reception June 13 before the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies at Illinois State University in Normal.

2014 Summer Games ReceptionThe Outstanding Organization Award recognizes a club, business or organization whose efforts have significantly improved the Special Olympics Illinois athletes’ experiences either locally or statewide.

In 2013, Durham School Services and National Express Corporation partnered with Special Olympics Illinois to create an impact greater than past years. In 2013, Durham School Services and National Express’s support of Special Olympics totaled nearly $20,000.

Durham School Services has donated buses for Polar Plunges at 3 locations- Lake Bluff since 2008 and Palatine and Fox Lake for the past two years. They have sponsored the Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby for the past 8 years with employees selling duck adoptions.  Those sales have raised more than $14,000 over the years. In addition, Durham provided buses to transport Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull participants at O’Hare Airport for the past few years.  Durham also provided buses for Team Illinois’s training camp and provided buses for a Young Athletes event at Northwestern University.

SJ Broadcasting Media Group – Outstanding Media

SJ Broadcasting Media Group of Champaign has been named 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Outstanding Media of the Year.  DJ Diane Ducey accepted the award at a reception June 13 before the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies at Illinois State University in Normal.

2014 Summer Games ReceptionThe Outstanding Media Award recognizes an individual or organization that has helped communicate and/or promote Special Olympics Illinois and the achievements of its athletes, coaches and volunteers locally, Area-or statewide through news features and/or other presentations.

SJ Broadcasting has been a supporter of Special Olympics Illinois for eight years, donating air time for the Polar Plunge and Golf Outing fundraisers. Each year, SJ Broadcasting has donated free air time totaling $1,000 per event. SJ Broadcasting provides free advertising and he also sits on the Eastern/Area 8 Polar Plunge and Golf Outing committees because he can recruit participants and sponsors need for fundraising events.

In addition to commercial spots, DJ Josh Laskowski also does call-ins for live interviews leading up to events. The interviews that he does allows for a more personal touch, as coaches are able to lend their voice for the program allowing for coaches, athletes, volunteers and potential sponsors hear a familiar voice.

Laskowski is a DJ for Polar Plunge. He announces and provides music for both spectators as well as Plungers.