Special Olympics Unified Team

Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Special Olympics Illinois Announce 2016 Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All-Star Team

CHICAGO (March 15, 2016) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Special Olympics Illinois are proud to announce the members of the 2016 Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All-Star Team.

This year’s team will include six athletes, five unified partners and two alternates:

Athletes: Brandon Davis – Homewood-Flossmoor High School; Samuel Devereux and Adam Letcher– Hoffman Estates High School; Mark Jerabek – District 204 Alumni; Louis Pisani – DuPage Valley Special Athletes, Nathan Simmons – Normal West High School; and Ricks Cooper (Alternate) – Oak Park District 97.

Unified Partners: Megan Donermeyer and Jared Hoekstra – Homewood-Flossmoor High School; Ethan Harvey – DuPage Valley Special Athletes; Hanna Simmons – Normal West High School; Gerardo Valencia – Hoffman High School; and Owen Baker (Alternate) – Oak Park District 97.

The All Star team will be coached by David Dore (Homewood Flossmoor High School), Kelly O’Reilly (School District 54) and Paul Caldwell (Chicago Fire), with support from Jessica Yavitz (Chicago Fire) and Jennifer Marcello (Special Olympics Illinois).

WATCH: 2015 Chicago Fire Special Olympics Unified Team Experience

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Special Olympics and expand Chicago Fire Unified All-Star Soccer. It was a joy watching the amazing athletes within the program compete and have fun while playing soccer last year, and we look forward to another great season in 2016," said Jessica Yavitz, Chicago Fire vice president of community relations.

The first practice will be held Saturday, March 19 from 1-2:30 pm at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

Created with the goal of bringing people together, Special Olympics Unified Sports teams have more than half a million participants worldwide who work together to break down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities. Unified Sports joins athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared training and competition exercises with the principle that training and playing together is the quickest path to friendship and understanding.

The Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All-Star Team will practice monthly at Fire training facilities. They will also travel with the Chicago Fire to play a road game in addition to hosting a match in Chicago. The game schedule includes:

Saturday, July 16, 2016 vs. FC Dallas (Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas)
Sunday, August 14, 2016 vs. Orlando City SC (Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.)

“Special Olympics Illinois is thrilled to expand this partnership with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club,” says Dave Breen, President & CEO of Special Olympics Illinois. “This is an incredible opportunity for our athletes and Unified Partners to travel and meet competitors from other states. We are grateful to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club for their help in creating awareness for Unified Sports and in promoting social inclusion through sports training and competition experiences.”

Additional information on the Special Olympics Unified Sports program can be found here.