The familiar sounds of excited athletes and encouraging volunteers filled the Health, Fitness & Recreation Center gym at Moraine Valley Community College as the Special Olympics returned in-person in early November.

For nearly 40 years, Moraine Valley has partnered with the Special Olympics Motor Activity Program, which works with people who have profound and severe disabilities, to host the athletic event on campus. It returned after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

An athlete participates in the 39th Special Olympics held at Moraine Valley Community College.

An athlete participates in the 39th Special Olympics held at Moraine Valley Community College.

Stacy Sheerin, professor/coordinator of Recreation Therapy and Recreation Management, led the charge with help from her Recreation Therapy students. Although normally upwards of 75 athletes participate, this year only 20 attended because of some lingering concerns about COVID-19.

“The athletes we had were amazing. We also had so many fun volunteers who were willing to engage the athletes and get them to participate,” Sheerin said. “The dance area was a hit. The last five minutes of the event became quite the party.”

Athletes from agencies within the college’s district that provide services and programs to this population are invited each year, and area high school students volunteer because each athlete needs at least two aides to get around each station. This year, athletes came from Lemont High School, Lemont Township High School District 210 and Stagg High School.

Athletes compete in events that accommodate their functioning level. Among the 18 activities spread throughout the gym, they can choose from modified basketball, toe touches, horseshoes, ball catch or dancing, Every participant earned a medal.

“I thought it was a huge success, and I’m so excited we’re able to have it back on campus again,” Sheerin said. “I’m thankful Moraine Valley allowed us to hold this, and we’ll be back next year on Nov. 1 for our 40th event.”


For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or