BOLINGBROOK – The Lily Cache Special Recreation Association had a strong showing at the Special Olympics State Summer Games from June 14 to 16, racking up 22 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze medals.
The LCSRA is a joint effort between Bolingbrook and Plainfield park districts, serving people with disabilities – including but not limited to physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, communication disorders, emotional/behavior disorders and autism spectrum disorder.
During the Special Olympic Summer Games, the LCSRA teams excelled in six sports, participating alongside more than 4,000 athletes, 600 coaches, 2,500 volunteers and 3,300 family members.
This year marked the first time the organization had athletes represented in each sport.
LCSRA Manager of Special Recreation Jill Mukushina thanked everyone, saying the organization’s continual involvement in Special Olympic activities is aided by the outpouring of support from families, volunteers and coaches.
“The Special Olympics is truly a collaborative effort from athletes, parents, coaches and volunteers,” Mukushina said. “It takes the encouragement from all athletes, hours of training with coaches, and dedication and support from parents and volunteers.”
LCSRA athletes began Special Olympic training in October – meeting once a week with coaches and working on routines, flexibility and athletic drills.
Sister coaching tandem Trista and Kalina Matt led the five-member LCSRA rhythmic gymnastics team. Athletes Ayanna Foster, Samantha Dvorak, Vanessa Fiore, Emily Olszanowski and Marie Phelps each placed and took home medals in their respective gymnastics categories.
“This is my fifth year with LCSRA and fourth year at the Special Olympics,” Trista Matt said. “Every year is so rewarding, but this year was the best yet. The team put in so much hard work and watching them compete was a dream come true.”
Trista Matt’s sister agreed.
“It was truly a wonderful experience,” Kalina Matt said. “I could not be more proud of my girls. They trained so hard, and it was amazing to watch them and their fellow competitors perform.”
One of the LCSRA standout competitors was Ayanna Foster. In her first year with the rhythmic gymnastics team, Ayanna captured five gold medals, including ribbon, hoop, ball rope and all-around categories.
“Ayanna is truly a remarkable athlete and gracious person,” Kalina Matt said. “She started the season later than the other girls and had to play a little catch-up, but her determination and hard work paid off.”
Power lifter Matt Schuler won three medals – including gold in the bench and deadlift combination – while Luke Lambert and Mark Oftedahl each took home seven medals.
On the team side, the LCSRA soccer team finished first and earned a gold medal.