On May 23, SEASPAR staff, volunteers, participants, families, and partners came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the annual Believe & Achieve Recognition Banquet. Nearly 250 people attended the event at Abbington Banquets in Glen Ellyn.
One highlight of the banquet is the presentation of awards to participants, staff, volunteers, and community partners. Please join us in congratulating the following award winners!
Athlete of the Year – Samantha Wagner
Samantha joined our Special Olympics Volleyball program in 2015, and after that first season as a Spartan, she also joined the Basketball program and would go on to join the Flag Football program in 2017 as the lone female player on the team. Despite her small stature, Samantha has no trouble holding her own on the court or the field, and she is known among her coaches and teammates for her athleticism, kindness, and willingness to do whatever is best for her team. Watch Samantha’s award presentation on YouTube below!
Cultural Artist of the Year – Owen Murphy
Owen is a participant in SEASPAR’s Adapted Music Lessons program, and over the last two years, he has discovered an ability to pair instruments and match notes and pitches to create original compositions and arrange them to his favorite songs. Even though Owen is a quiet young man, his music has become a voice through which he can express himself. Watch Owen’s award presentation on YouTube below!
Rising Star Award – Becky Cavanagh
The Rising Star Award is a new recognition introduced this year, and the very first recipient also happens to be the youngest-ever SEASPAR participant at only 23 months old when she first rode Serena’s Song. Becky, now 12, continues participating in SEASPAR programs and is also an accomplished Special Olympics athlete, becoming a Global Messenger at just 10 years old. You may recognize her face, because this year’s Cop on a Rooftop fundraising campaign featured her in advertisements. Watch Becky’s award presentation on YouTube below!
Leading Light Award (Part-time Staff) – Sue Willis
Sue is a member of the SEASPAR staff that most of our participants have never seen, but plays an integral role in the lives of a few. As part of our Inclusion Services staff since 2016, Sue has worked year-round helping some of the most challenging participants succeed in our member entities’ programs, and is an incredible asset to all of our organizations. Watch Sue’s award presentation on YouTube below!
Super Star Award (Part-time Staff) – Bob Ackermann
Bob started with SEASPAR in a different capacity long before becoming a staff member, as his son, Brian, is a long-time participant in our programming. After retiring from his career, Bob wanted the opportunity to provide future families with the same quality service that his family has enjoyed. The energy he brings to our programs rivals that of any 18-year-old staff, and he is an invaluable member of the SEASPAR team. Watch Bob’s award presentation on YouTube below!
Virtuous Volunteer Award – Ann Saladino
Ann began volunteering with our Day Away Tour for adults in 2016, and she remains an indispensable part of the program. Ann has generously donated 160 hours to SEASPAR, directly saving $2,000 in staffing costs. But most importantly, the participants love spending time with her. Watch Ann’s award presentation on YouTube below!
Community Partner of the Year – Level UP Basketball Academy
Level UP Basketball Academy of Downers Grove was formed in 2011 to provide children with high level basketball coaching in a positive, fun, and encouraging environment. Level UP began partnering with SEASPAR in 2015 and hosts an annual basketball tournament fundraiser to benefit SEASPAR’s Special Olympics programming. Over the last three years, Level UP has donated an incredible $13,000. Watch Level UP’s award presentation on YouTube below!
Another highlight of the Believe & Achieve Recognition Banquet is the video presentation that shares the experiences of participants through photos and videos taken at programs and events. Watch this year’s video, entitled “Who Will YOU Be Today?” on YouTube below!
View photos from the event on Flickr below!