Special Olympics Illinois visits Lake Land College

Michael Grovier, Co-Managing Editor

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On Sept. 21, Lake Land College’s campus was transformed in anticipation of more than 700 athletes and 1200 volunteers who made up the Special Olympics Family Festival. After a brief ceremony and parade featuring community businesses, athletic teams, pageant queens and Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University faculty, the event was under way.
The Special Olympics Family Festival was founded in 1984 by Consolidated Communications as a way for their employees to get involved in the community. Since then, it has grown into a large and well-attended festival with activities for all who are involved. Walking through the festival grounds on the East side of campus, one could see Special Olympics athletes enjoying food and live music, trying their hand at soccer, basketball or volleyball, meeting costumed characters, and even singing yet another karaoke rendition of Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” And of course, they would see the smiles. There were smiles from the athletes and volunteers alike.
Together, the festival has become what Consolidated Communications calls “the biggest event of its kind in the world.” In addition, the Special Olympics Family Festival has offered years of opportunities for Lake Land College students to become involved and reach out to their community, and to experience the joy that comes in having another friend for the day.

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