2010 Special Olympics USA National Games


Games Normal, IL-On July 17, 2010, 71 athletes and 17 coaches from Illinois will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to compete in the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games July 18-23. Most of the team will fly to Lincoln via private donated jets, part of the Cessna Citation Special Olympics Airlift, leaving from Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington-Normal.  These athletes will be among 3,000 others from 48 states participating in the USA National Games. The Games will mark a milestone as the largest event in the history of the state of Nebraska and is only the second USA National Games (the first were in 2006). The Illinois athletes return on July 24.  (see list of participating athletes on next page)

Team Illinois will compete in aquatics, athletics, male and female basketball, bocce, bowling, golf, powerlifting, male softball and tennis. They will be housed in a residence hall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Illinois sponsors include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (also a national sponsor),  Citation Special Olympics Airlift, GE, Illinois Movers’ and Warehousemen’s Association, Image Air and Chevy Missions (Illinois Chevy: Your Mission. Our Drive.)  Chevy is loaning Team Illinois vehicles for the trip.

The week-long event will feature 13 Olympic-style competitions and other non-competitive special events such as the star-studded Opening and Closing Ceremonies,  the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run™ that will symbolize the start of the competition; Special Olympics Town, a designated area of family fun; and the Healthy Athletes area for vital health screenings. Sgt. Amy Williams of the Huntley Police Department will represent Illinois in the Final Leg of the Torch Run.

Additionally, this year’s Games will continue to foster inclusion by showcasing Special Olympics Unified Sports®, where Special Olympics athletes together with partners without intellectual disabilities share the same field of play.  Illinois will have one Unified golf team and one Unified tennis team competing.

A National Youth Activation Summit will be held in conjunction with the Games as these young leaders rally around making change for the better of the Special Olympics movement, promoting unity and acceptance of those with intellectual disabilities. Students Jordan Schubert (a Special Olympics athlete) and Andy Marsh (a Partner without an intellectual disability) along with teacher/coach Joy Nebergall from Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville will participate. 

A National Education Conference will also take place for educators as they discuss ways to bring together students with and without disabilities in meaningful ways. SueEllen Stephenson, principal of Lincoln Elementary in Canton, and her daughter Adrianne Stephenson, a teacher at Blackwell Elementary in Schaumburg, will attend; both women have implemented the Special Olympics Young Athletes program in their schools.                                                                                        

AREA 3 ATHLETES  (city of Chicago program). 


Darnell Thompson of Chicago (Archer Heights neighborhood) will play on the Team Illinois Men’s Basketball Team at the 2010 National Games.  He trains through Ada S. McKinley Industries where he is also employed.  His local coach is Michael Gordon.  He also participates in Special Olympics softball. 

 Thompson has become a more vocal and outgoing person as a result of his participation in Special Olympics.  He is a caring person who always focuses on the wellness of his peers, going out of his way to make them feel included regardless of skill level.  To prepare for the games, Darnell is making an effort to improve his diet as well as doing cardiovascular and strength exercises.  Outside of his training and job, Thompson enjoys jigsaw puzzles, dancing and drawing in his spare time. 

 Mudiwa Jabulani of Chicago (Gage Park neighborhood) will compete in athletics (track & field) at the 2010 National Games.  Her events will be the 200-meter run, 400-meter run, 4×400-meter relay and women’s 3-Kg shotput.  She has competed in Special Olympics for ten years and trains through Gage Park.  Her local coach is Katie Stachura and her other sports include basketball, bocce, softball, volleyball and floor hockey. 

Jabulani feels that she has more fun in her life as a result of her participation in Special Olympics.  She has grown as an athlete and being chosen for the National Games has given her a sense of being capable and talented.  Outside of Special Olympics, she is employed part-time at Park Lawn and Evergreen Doors and Windows.  In her spare time she enjoys cooking, cleaning, going to movies and plays, activities with her friends, skating and riding her bike.


Sean Hurley of Chicago (Mt. Greenwood neighborhood) will compete in golf at the 2010 National Games, in level four stroke play – nine hole.  He has competed in Special Olympics for 30 years and trains through Marquette Park with local coach Patricia Molloy.  Hurley is a busy Special Olympics athlete as he competes in aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, softball, tennis, volleyball, alpine skiing, cross country skiing, floor hockey and speed skating.  In 2001, Sean competed in alpine skiing at the Special Olympics World Games in Alaska and came home with two bronze medals. 

 Hurley emphasizes that Special Olympics has given him the opportunity to travel to many places, meet wonderful athletes and make new friends.  He is employed as a bus boy in the cafeteria at St. Xavier University.  In his spare time, Hurley enjoys having fun with his friends.

Lisa Wisniewski (Clearing neighborhood) will coach female basketball for Team Illinois.  She coaches locally for Mt. Greenwood Park.