By Kristin Boza
With the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics is this July, the participants in the Special Recreation program at Mount Greenwood Park are gearing up for the competition while maintaining their mission of giving back to the community.
The program serves children and adults with intellectual disabilities in the Chicagoland area, and currently has 115 participants ranging in age from 7 to 65, according to Special Recreation Coordinator Lisa Mulcrone. Mulcrone has been a part of the program in some capacity for the last 27 years, beginning as a volunteer when her sister, Sioban, was enrolled in the Special Recreation program.
While the program accepts community volunteers to help out, the participants in the Special Recreation program have become great partners to other community groups as well.
“We have volunteered by baking cookies at the Oak Lawn Ronald McDonald House, we assist BAPA with the Ridge Run and Home Tour, and we volunteer with Special Children’s charities in various jobs, such as assisting with 5K runs, the annual Duck Derby fundraiser, and the Polar Plunge, to name a few,” Mulcrone said.
The Special Recreation group has been essential in helping BAPA with the Ridge Run by stuffing goody bags, handing out fliers along the race route, and passing out refreshments and finishing medals to the Ridge Run runners.
Mulcrone and the team is especially looking forward to participating in the Special Olympics July 17 through 21 at Illinois State University in Bloomington, Ill. Athletes will compete in power lifting, track and field, gymnastics, swimming and bocce, according to Mulcrone.
“We are extremely excited about being a part of the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics. We will be attending as a group, hoping to make it to the majority of activities that Special Olympics has planned,” Mulcrone said. “We compete year-round in 14 different Special Olympic sports.”
To get involved as a volunteer with the Special Recreation program in Mount Greenwood, contact Lisa Mulcrone, firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer at a Special Olympics event, contact Eileen Guinane, email@example.com.