Since its incarnation in 1968, the Special Olympics organization has brought joy into the lives of intellectually disabled with no small help from its fundraising heroes. Multiple Special Olympics events happened all over the country this weekend and residents in Kentucky and Illinois helped make that possible.
A group of junior and senior high students in Illinois together raised over $5,000 for the Special Olympics organization. Many students were encouraged to donate money to the cause. If students gave one dollar, they were allowed to wear a hat to school. Similarly, the teachers were able to wear jeans if they participated. The students also fundraised through special events held at their school.
The top earner was able to gather $865 alone. The teachers were exceptionally proud of the passion the students exhibited to help the Special Olympics’ cause. “[It] is all about real world events and teaching students how to live in the real world,” said Chevi Ingalls, an English teacher at Liberty Junior High School in Illinois.
“It was…because they know that it’s a need in the community,” she said. “It’s pretty awesome.” While some groups and communities come together to fund-raise, other donors like to fly solo.
An unlikely fundraising hero comes in the form of current Olympian athlete, Dallas Robinson, who returned from Sochi Russia less than a week ago with his sights on helping the Special Olympics. Robinson hails from Lagrange, Kentucky. Being an athlete is Robinson’s life and was his dream as a child. He plans to support the dreams of the athletes in the Special Olympics by selling his bobsledding speed suit on eBay.
The auction began this morning for the athlete’s most prized possession and will run until March 8 of this year. Robinson said all the proceeds would go directly to the Special Olympics organization. “If I can help someone out,” he said, “I’m going to do it.” To the north, other fundraising heroes prepared for a winter swim.
The Niles County Police Department took part in Northwestern University’s Polar Plunge, an annual event to raise funds for the Special Olympics. There is a basic qualifying fee, and donors are encouraged to give more. The participants jump in Lake Michigan 24 times in 24 hours. The department gathered friends and family through the use of Facebook.
Together, the group raised 24,700 dollars for the Special Olympics. The Deputy Police Chief of Niles, Vince Genualdi joined in the plunge with his wife, Julie, an officer for the local Park Ridge Police Department. The competition, which led to Julie’s 23rd plunge, was fierce between the departments. “It’s a little competition we have,” said Genualdi. “She always says that Park Ridge is going to raise more…than Niles, and I say that Niles is going to raise more….It’s for a good cause.”
Without the help of fundraising heroes like the students of the Liberty school district, Dallas Robinson and the police departments of Niles, the Special Olympics would not be able to support the international events that work each say to bring physical exercise and community engagement to the lives of intellectually disabled adults and children.
By Erin P. Friar