ALINA P.

ALINA P.

She participated in her first NEDSRA program last year and she loves her teachers and instructors. "At NEDSRA, I can be myself," says Alina She tried going to local park district programs but felt the staff didn't understand her or have patience with her. At NEDSRA, she enjoyed Pool School, where a one-on-one program was designed for her swimming abilities. She also enjoyed the KIDS KLUB program which is a social program geared towards 4 to 12 year olds. She loves her Pom Squad instructor, Debbie Pawinski, who teaches her the latest dance moves and how to cheer with spirit. Her best experience to date was horseback riding. Says Alina,"I used to be afraid of horses and animals. Now I love them and I like to ride.

AMANDA L.

AMANDA L.

Amanda has been coming to NEDSRA for the past four years and is having a great time. "NEDSRA makes me feel great because they treat you nice and I have a lot of friends," says Amanda. She enjoys FUN FITNESS with her coach Beth Corso, because it helps her to lose weight. DAY TRIPPERS is another of her favorite programs where a group of young adults go on fun excursions like visits to museums or volunteering at community pet shelters. Amanda's most memorable event happened last year when she went on a river rafting trip in Arizona as part of NEDSRA's Trip & Special Event program. "It was fun and I had a great time," said Amanda.

ANGEL

ANGEL

Angel needs to use a wheelchair because of his condition but he is not confined to that wheelchair. "At NEDSRA I can feel independent and free," says Angel. He spends a lot of his time with his favorite programs, Adapted Sports and Wheelchair Athletics. He loves to swim because he likes the feeling of his body moving in the warm pool water. He also likes working with weight machines at Club Fitness to strengthen his arms. This allows him the arm strength to participate in NEDSRA's adaptive sports like boccia, tennis, and soccer. Angel's most memorable experience was playing in his first wheelchair soccer game. "It was played on a basketball court and you had to knock the ball with your chair across the goal line. It was FUN!” exclaims Angel. He also participates in Saturday Night Socializers. This social program brings together adults ages 22-45 for fun evening activities where NEDSRA participants start lifelong friendships. Angel likes the bingo games the best. "I like NEDSRA because it makes me feel good and makes me feel welcomed," says Angel.

ANTHONY A.

ANTHONY A.

Anthony is still fairly new to NEDSRA, when only three ago he started playing wheelchair basketball with the Jr. Bulls. "At NEDSRA I can have fun and make new friends. They make me feel part of the team," says Anthony. Wheelchair basketball has helped him improve his strength and endurance and as he says, "It is a lot of fun." He is thinking about trying other programs so he can learn some new sports. "My best experience was making my first basket two years ago," says Anthony.

BRYAN P.

BRYAN P.

Bryan likes the Bowling program at NEDSRA, as well as the Bocce program because "it gets me out of the house," he says. However, when you ask him about his favorite program, Theater Troupe, and there is no containing this actor extraordinaire. Since joining NEDSRA 10 years ago, Bryan has turned into quite the thespian, participating in all of the annual plays. Says Bryan, "Mom loves to take video when we have a play and I love to act." He does many voice accents which he has picked up over the years; British, Russian, Irish, German, and "an old man" accent. His favorite play was last year's "Shout!!" where he played a French General. His favorite line in the play was, "Bacon Tree, that's not a bacon tree...that's a (h)Ambush!"

CHRIS M.

CHRIS M.

Chris is a natural born actor and likes to joke around with his friends. He currently can be found on stage with the Theater Troupe program. This program, directed by Bob Griffin, introduces youths and adults to choir, choreographed dances and acting. Each year participants practice their talents then put on a NEDSRA SHOW every spring. Chris likes NEDSRA because, "I like to fool around and tell jokes that my friends laugh at." Chris also likes NEDSRA so he "doesn't just sit around the house all day." Another of Chris's favorite activities is snow tubing with the Young Adult Club (ages 19-26). At NEDSRA, Chris feels comfortable and needed.


CHRIS R.

CHRIS R.

Chris has been participating in NEDSRA programs for over 20 years. Comments Chris, "I feel like NEDSRA is my family and my home." This is the type of impact NEDSRA can have on the life of a child and his family. One of Chris' favorite programs is Friday Night Rec or as Chris likes to call it, "Fun Night Rec." This program offers 27-36 year-old friends an opportunity to hang out together, go to dinner or a show, or watch a ball game. Chris says, "I feel comfortable when I am with my friends and it makes me happy having a good time." As far as sports goes, Chris is quite the golfer. He plays with his father and brother at Eaglewood Golf Course and he loves being outdoors in the sunshine. Two years ago, Chris won a Gold Medal at the Special Olympics' national golf tournament in Nebraska. In addition to golf, Chris has played guard on the NEDSRA Huskies basketball team. His fondest memory is winning the Gold Medal at the Special Olympics state basketball tournament with his coach, Beth Corso.


CLAIRE

CLAIRE

This 24 year old has been coming to NEDSRA for over 20 years. Quite the socializer, Claire's favorite program is Saturday Socializers. "It gives me a chance to get out of the house and meet with people. I love to socialize, especially with my best friends Nicole and Connie," says Claire. She likes Adaptive Fitness which has participants working with cardio machines and exercise equipment. Another fun program Claire enjoys is Water Exercise, taught by Carrie Henry. "At NEDSRA I can be more independent and learn how to do things on my own," states Claire. Her most memorable programs over the years have been the Spring Formal dance, the Reach-for-the-Stars dinner, and her trip to Branson, Missouri last summer. "It was my first time in a hotel and I want to do more trips. It was fun," says Claire.


CONNIE K.

CONNIE K.

"NEDSRA programs are awesome!" states Connie enthusiastically. She has been coming to NEDSRA since 2003 which was a great year and experience for her. At the "REACH FOR THE STARS"banquet that year, Connie was featured in a video in front of over 200 NEDSRA participants, directors, and staff. "I was so surprised to see my face on the big screen. It was a big thrill and I didn't expect it," says Connie. Connie has participated in many programs over the years with her favorites being Special Olympics Bowling, Saturday Night Socializers, and Pool School with Melissa. "NEDSRA gets me out of the house and I like it that my niece volunteers to help for some of the programs," says Connie, "I am happy because I have many friends I can talk to.

ETHAN D.

ETHAN D.

Ethan has been a Cub Scout with NEDSRA over the past three years, with scout master Deb Pawinski leading the pack. According to Ethan, NEDSRA programs benefit him and his family because, "There is a really fun compilation of programs and the staff is really nice, especially Mallory and Paul. Ethan is very happy with the friends he makes at NEDSRA and feels sorry for kids who do not use NEDSRA programs. His favorite program was LEGO Night at the Bensenville Library. He owns his own LEGO set and has also visited the LEGOLAND Discovery Zone in Schaumburg. This summer his family is planning a trip to the LEGOLAND in California.

GIOVANNI Q.

GIOVANNI Q.

His friends call him Gio and he loves playing basketball. Gio plays on the Wheelchair Bulls Prep basketball team. Last year, the Bulls played the Addison Police Department in a friendly game. "It was so funny when we took the wheel off of one of the policeman's chair while he was playing," says Gio laughing. Some day he hopes to play basketball and the University of Illinois. He also participates in Adaptive Track & Field and Archery. "Archery teaches you survival skills," says Gio. He has made many friends at NEDSRA and is happy that he can continue to have new experiences. States Gio, "I like NEDSRA programs because they are fun!

JACK T.

JACK T.

Jack has been coming to NEDSRA for over 7 years. "NEDSRA programs help me learn new sports," says Jack. He has participated in five seasons of Challenger Baseball and loves the pace of the game. Jack says that he would be "bored" if there were no NEDSRA programs to do. His newest sport is Huskies Junior Basketball. His best experience was when the team made a come-back victory to win in overtime by one point. "It was exciting," said Jack.

JALAL L.

JALAL L.

Jalal first came to NEDSRA during a summer camp when he was 3 years old. "I had a blast!" he exclaimed. Since then he has joined the NEDSRA cub scouts and visited the Itasca Police department where he got to sit in a police car. His favorite NEDSRA program is Horseback riding with his favorite horse, Shirley. Jalal says that NEDSRA helps him to make friends and to become more social. "My friends at NEDSRA make me feel comfortable," says Jalal.

JEREMY A.

JEREMY A.

His nickname is the "BEAR" because he gives big bear hugs to friends and staff alike. This lovable Bear enjoys NEDSRA programs like Basketball, Volleyball and Floor Hockey. His favorite program happened last winter when NEDSRA visited the islands of Hawaii with Beth Corso who led the trip. "We got to stay up late but we had to get up early," says Jeremy, "They have great programs at NEDSRA." He also likes NEDSRA for the friendships he has made over the past 20 years. "My friends make me feel good, so I am happy," states Jeremy.


JOSE M.

JOSE M.

Jose started coming to NEDSRA when he was 26 years old and looking for a place for people like himself. Since arriving, Jose has participated in Special Olympics volleyball, basketball, softball, and floor hockey. His favorite experience was traveling downstate with his floor hockey team and winning a gold medal. His current favorite program is Channel 77 which "teaches you how to edit video and be on camera doing interviews." You can see Jose on the NEDSRA website where he interviewed people at the Fiesta de Verano summer party. His long term goal; "I want to be a Special Olympics International global messenger that represents Special Olympics to the world." Jose has a bright future, that's why he wears sunglasses.

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