Over 22,000 individuals in the state of Illinois participate in Special Olympics. It is an organization that is near and dear to my heart as many of the children with whom I work day in and day out take part in it. I cannot even begin to describe the impact Special Olympics makes on their lives. It teaches them the value of hard work, the reward of dedication and perseverance, and above all it helps them believe that they can do more than they ever thought possible.
Illinois has a proud place in the Special Olympics movement history. Chicago, specifically Soldier Field, was the sight of the first Special Olympics games in July of 1968. Mayor Richard Daley noted to the amazing Eunice Kennedy Shriver that "the world will never be the same after this." Thankfully, he was right. In a 2008 tribute to Eunice, on the 40th anniversary of the first Special Olympics games, a Sports Illustrated article noted that the Special Olympics movement "did nothing less than release an entire population from a prison of ignorance and misunderstanding. It did something else too--create a cathartic covenant between competitor and fan that is unlike anything else in sport. You watch and what you see is nothing less than a transformation, the passage of someone who has been labeled unfortunate, handicapped, disabled or challenged to something else: athlete."
We're freezin' for a reason. Honor the Special Olympics heritage of Illinois and donate to the Polar Plunge!!