'Inspire Greatness Gala' raises $1.3 million for Special Olympics Illinois

  • During the 12th annual "Inspire Greatness Gala" May 11, United Airlines and its staff were honored for their dedication to the Special Olympics mission and people with intellectual disabilities. Patrick McCarthy is the featured Special Olympics Illinois athlete.

    During the 12th annual "Inspire Greatness Gala" May 11, United Airlines and its staff were honored for their dedication to the Special Olympics mission and people with intellectual disabilities. Patrick McCarthy is the featured Special Olympics Illinois athlete. Courtesy of Richard R. Howe

  • Patrick McCarthy, the featured Special Olympics Illinois athlete, stars in a video shown at the 12th annual "Inspire Greatness Gala" May 11. He competed in speed skating, winning a gold medal, bronze medal, and fourth-place finish, at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

    Patrick McCarthy, the featured Special Olympics Illinois athlete, stars in a video shown at the 12th annual "Inspire Greatness Gala" May 11. He competed in speed skating, winning a gold medal, bronze medal, and fourth-place finish, at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Courtesy of Sam D. Tang

  • Michael Scudder, chairman and chief executive officer of First Midwest Bankcorp Inc., is the event chairman for Special Olympics Illinois' 12th annual "Inspire Greatness Gala" May 11 at the Fairmont Chicago.

    Michael Scudder, chairman and chief executive officer of First Midwest Bankcorp Inc., is the event chairman for Special Olympics Illinois' 12th annual "Inspire Greatness Gala" May 11 at the Fairmont Chicago. Courtesy of Richard R. Howe

  • Zinyra Ross, Special Olympics Illinois athlete, co-emceed the program alongside Special Olympics Illinois board member and Chicago journalist Rob Johnson.

    Zinyra Ross, Special Olympics Illinois athlete, co-emceed the program alongside Special Olympics Illinois board member and Chicago journalist Rob Johnson. Courtesy of Richard R. Howe

  • Emcee Rob Johnson leads the auction for "Sweet Home Chicago" by the featured gala athlete Patrick McCarthy. He painted it in 2018 for the Misericordia "Artist in All" fundraiser. It features Chicago buildings and landmarks in a colorful, abstract style, including the Chicago Theatre and a "L" train. This copy of the original acrylic painting has been printed on canvas.

    Emcee Rob Johnson leads the auction for "Sweet Home Chicago" by the featured gala athlete Patrick McCarthy. He painted it in 2018 for the Misericordia "Artist in All" fundraiser. It features Chicago buildings and landmarks in a colorful, abstract style, including the Chicago Theatre and a "L" train. This copy of the original acrylic painting has been printed on canvas. Courtesy of Sam D. Tang

 
Submitted by Special Olympics Illinois
Updated 5/22/2019 9:19 PM

On Saturday, May 11, Special Olympics Illinois hosted the 12th annual "Inspire Greatness Gala" at the Fairmont Chicago. The event welcomed over 700 guests and raised $1.3 million for the athletes.

The event was chaired by Michael L. Scudder, chairman and CEO of First Midwest Bancorp Inc., along with executive vice chair Joe Antunovich, president of Antunovich Associates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Zimyra Ross, Special Olympics Illinois athlete, emceed the program with journalist Rob Johnson, who is also a Special Olympics Illinois board member.

United Airlines and its staff were recognized for their dedication to the Special Olympics mission and people with intellectual disabilities.

The night continued with a special message from Patrick McCarthy, the featured Special Olympics Illinois athlete of the evening.

Attendees enjoyed an uplifting and comical video, titled "Be Your Best," which took guests through the many facets of McCarthy's life as a Special Olympics Illinois athlete.

The video guest starred "Hamilton" Chicago cast members, Miguel Cervantes and Jamaal Fields-Green, as well as Jon Seda of "Chicago P.D."

The video concluded with crowd-roaring applause and a standing ovation. McCarthy's smile was infectious as the audience continued to cheer his name as walked to the podium to give his speech.

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McCarthy spoke about the many opportunities Special Olympics Illinois has afforded him. He added in humor, personality, spunk to his speech.

McCarthy has participated in the program since age 8. He began his Special Olympics career competing in track and field and then moved on to try many other sports including soccer, speed skating, golf, equestrian, softball, basketball, bowling, volleyball, tennis, powerlifting, and swimming. In 2013, he was selected to join Special Olympics USA at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

McCarthy works at several jobs on the Misericordia campus, some of these include, recycling and bakery packaging jobs. He also works part-time at Panera Bread in Evanston. He has been an ambassador for the Chicago White Sox since 2013. He likes to spend time painting, reading and listening to music. He enjoys running and often runs in a half dozen or so 5K and 10K races in Chicago every year.

McCarthy inspired the audience to be their best, just like Special Olympics Illinois inspired greatness within him.

The "Be Your Best" video could not have been a success without the help of many contributors.

Thank you to Cinespace Chicago, Hamilton Chicago cast members, Johnny's Ice House, Jon Seda of NBC's "Chicago P.D.", Lowes Hotel, Misericordia Heart of Mercy, Noise Floor Sound Solutions, and Panera Bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Thanks also to the event sponsors:

• Gold Sponsors: First Midwest Bank, and Mike & Karen Atwood

• Silver Sponsors: Advocate Health Care, Antunovich Associates, Ariel Investments, Blue Cross BlueShield of Illinois, KPMG, Magellan Corporation, MAKE Corporation, McKinsey & Company, The Stack Family Foundation & Jim and Mary Corrigan, Tom & Jan Murray Family Foundation, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and Union Carpenters & Contractors

Champagne Sponsors: Chapman and Cutler LLP, Goldman Sachs, and Sandler O'Neil + Partners L.P.

• Bronze Sponsors: Advantage Paving Solutions, AJ Gallagher, Coupa, Elkay, EY, Foley & Lardner LLP, Forum Financial, Gelber Group, Hyatt, ITW, Jenny & P. Jay Fortner Family Fund, JP Morgan, Knights of Columbus, Pat and Rosemary O'Connor Family, PNC, Stephens Inc., Taft, Stettinius, & Hollister, TransUnion, USG, VedderPriceSM, and Wintrust.

The Official Partners are: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Casey's General Store, The Illinois Knights of Columbus, Law Enforcement Torch Run, and United Airlines.

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