IT'S TIME TO PLUNGE!!
YEP, IM STILL CRAZY! I'M PARTICIPATING IN THE 2009 ILLINOIS LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN FOR SPECIAL OLYMPICS SUPER PLUNGE. ON FRIDAY FEBRUARY 27TH AT 2PM, I WILL BE JUMPING INTO THE ICY WATERS OF LAKE MICHIGAN. FROM THAT POINT ON, I'LL CONTINUE TO JUMP BACK INTO THE WATER 23 MORE TIMES OVER THE NEXT 23 HOURS. THAT'S RIGHT, I WILL BE LIVING ON NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY'S NORTH BEACH AMONGST OTHER BRAVE SOULS ALL NIGHT LONG BRAVING THE COLD CHICAGOLAND WINTER!
WHY WOULD I DO SUCH A THING?!?!? I DO THIS FOR MY SON, COLE AND THE OTHER ATHLETES OF SPECIAL OLYMPICS ILLINOIS. COLE IS 8 YEARS OLD AND HAS DOWN SYNDROME AND AUTISM. I'VE BEEN COMMITTED TO THE LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN PROGRAM FOR NEARLY 10 YEARS. THE TORCH RUN AND SPECIAL OLYMPICS ILLINOIS PROVIDES AN EXTREMELY POSITIVE OUTLET FOR MY FAMILY. HAVING COLE IN MY LIFE HAS INTRODUCED ME TO A MYRIAD OF EMOTIONS MY FAMILY AND I ARE VERY THANKFUL FOR SPECIAL OLYMPICS ILLINOIS.
WHEN I WAS RAISING FUNDS FOR THIS LAST YEAR, I REMEMBER A COMMENT FROM A CO-WORKER OF MINE THAT HAS STUCK WITH ME: "YOU'RE DOING WHAT? WOW, SOUNDS LIKE IT SUCKS" I REMEMBER THINKING "IF YOU ONLY KNEW" WHAT REALLY "SUCKS" ARE THE MISUNDERSTOOD STARES. THE VISIBLE UNEASINESS OF SOME WHEN COLE IS AROUND , THE CONSTANT STRESS "SUCKS", THE FRUSTRATION WE FEEL WHEN COLE STRUGGLES TO TELL US SOMETHING "SUCKS" , SLEEPING PROBLEMS "SUCK", DEALING WITH THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND A STATE THAT RATES DEAD LAST IN DISABILITY FUNDING "SUCKS", AND MOST IMPORTANT TO ME - ANY THOUGHTS OF WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF OUR SON WHEN WE ARE GONE, "SUCKS"
AS YOU CAN SEE, THERE IS A LOT OF NEGATIVITY AND STRESS WHICH SURROUNDS RAISING A CHILD WITH A SIGNIFICANT INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY. IT'S EASY TO GET CONSUMED BY IT ALL AND I SOMETIMES AM GUILTY AS EVER. BUT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I'VE LEARNED IN THE LAST 8 YEARS IS THAT NO MATTER WHAT, THE SUN WILL RISE WITH THE HOPE AND DETERMINATION OF A NEW DAY. THAT SUNRISE FOR MY FAMILY IS SPECIAL OLYMPICS ILLINOIS AND WE ARE BRIGHTENED AND WARMED BY THE FLAME OF HOPE THAT BURNS BRIGHTLY ABOVE.
THE PICTURE YOU SEE ON THIS PAGE IS FROM THE 2008 SPECIAL OLYMPICS ILLINOIS SUMMER GAMES IN WHICH COLE AND I WERE CHOSEN TO LIGHT THE CAULDRON, OPENING THE SUMMER GAMES. THIS MOMENT IS THE MOST POSITIVE MOMENT THAT I'VE EVER HAD AS A HUMAN BEING. SUCH IRONY THAT I GET AS MUCH OR MORE FROM THIS PROGRAM DEVELOPED FOR MY SON. HERE IS A SMALL PORTION OF WHAT I WROTE ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE:
"Cole and I received the torch and the second Cole's hand touched the torch, the biggest and brightest smile came across his face!! It was a smile and jubilation that I don't think I'd seen out of him in some time. At that point, it was like he knew EXACTLY what to do. We walked slowly through the honor guard of uniformed police officers. The stress of the week completely lifted from my body through my tears because at that point I was almost sobbing. I'd never seen him that happy. I'd never seen his smile so bright! He was waving his arms wildly in excitement. We walked up the stairs to the cauldron and then I realized that the cauldron was a little too tall and I was going to have to pick him up. We both remained on the podium for a while after the lighting. I did not want the moment to end. He was so happy. It was like I was holding the "old" Cole. The Cole I had BEFORE autism came and took the limited speech he already had and his overall interest in about everything in the world. Since his autism diagnosis, it has been especially hard on our family because sometimes we just don't which way to go. So moments like these are extra special. We spend so much time finding something that Cole with respond to. I didn’t want the moment to end, it was surreal. "
SO, THERE IT IS. I KNOW IN THESE DAYS OF FINANCIAL UNREST, IT MAY BE A LITTLE HARD, BUT PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING TO THIS WORTHY CAUSE. THIS SITE IS SAFE AND SECURE AND FUNDS GO DIRECTLY TO SPECIAL OLYMPICS ILLINOIS. IF YOU'D RATHER DONATE CASH OR A CHECK, YOU CAN CONTACT ME PERSONALLY (815-791-0627) OR SEND YOUR DONATION TO THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS:
JOLIET POLICE DEPARTMENT
ATTN : OFFICER DWAYNE ENGLISH #304
150 W WASHINGTON
JOLIET, ILLINOIS 60432
**MAKE ALL CHECKS PAYABLE TO SPECIAL OLYMPICS ILLINOIS**
IF YOU DONATE OFFLINE, YOUR NAME WILL BE ADDED TO THE LIST OF DONATORS BELOW.
THANK YOU FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE!
THANK YOU TO MY OFFLINE DONATIONS!
ANDREA TATROE - $25.00
GORDIE CORP - $20.00
THE REARDON FAMILY - $25.00
JOHN PANIZZO - $20.00
BOB KERWIN - $25.00
TONY LAKOTA - $50.00
TOM & JAN QUILLMAN - $25.00
KATHY HAMBY - $50.00
BRIAN PROCHASKA $20.00
AL ROECHNER - $50.00
"BLACKIE" BLACKBURN - $75.00
WJOL AUCTION - $225.00
DIANE/DAVID WALZ - $20.00
MARY VALENTINO - $5.00