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Neighbors of DuPage

SEASPAR Athletes Go for Gold at Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games

Jun 19, 2019 12:48PM ● By Hannah Ott

SEASPAR athletes and coaches stop for a photo at the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games. From left: coach Andrew Zelasko, Bocce competitor Ron Kamper, Powerlifting competitor Allen Rosete, and coach Gary Naberhaus. (Image by SEASPAR)

Downers Grove - Seventeen athletes trained by the South East Association for Special Parks And Recreation (SEASPAR) earned a combined 33 medals, including 21 gold, at the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games in Bloomington-Normal, June 7-9.
The Summer Games is the largest of the more than 175 Special Olympics competitions held throughout Illinois each year, and is the final state competition for the sports of Athletics (track and field), Bocce, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Soccer and Swimming. More than 4,000 athletes competed at the event at the Illinois State University campus. SEASPAR was represented in five sports by a total of 17 athletes.
Nine of these athletes competed in the sport of Swimming. SEASPAR’s youngest competitor, 13-year-old Steven Gonzalez of Lisle, earned a gold medal in his division in the 50M Backstroke event in his first state competition. He also earned gold in the 4X25M Freestyle Relay with teammates Ryan McGuire of La Grange, and David Raineri of Downers Grove, and Denise Sedlacek of Naperville. McGuire also took gold in the 25M Freestyle event.
SEASPAR’s second relay team earned gold in the 4X100M Freestyle event. The athletes on this team are Mark Ploskonka of Darien, William Porch of Westmont, Sam Smetko of La Grange Park, and Chris Tegeler of Darien. Alternate Daniel Smrokowski of La Grange Park did not compete in the relay, but earned silver and bronze in his individual events.
The two Powerlifting athletes trained by SEASPAR earned multiple medals. Emily Lundvall of Westmont took gold in her division of the Bench Press, Deadlift, and Combination events. This was Lundvall’s sixth year competing and earning gold at Summer Games. Allen Rosete of Darien, a third-time Powerlifting competitor, earned gold medals in his division of the Bench Press and Combination events and a bronze medal in the Deadlift event.
Steven Gonzalez of Lisle poses with a Flossmoor police officer after receiving his gold medal in the 50M Backstroke Swimming competition at the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games. (Image by SEASPAR)

SEASPAR’s two Artistic Gymnastics competitors also earned multiple medals. Anna Cavallo of Downers Grove earned gold in her divisions of the Balance Beam and Floor Routine. Kari Winter, also of Downers Grove, took gold in her division of Floor Exercise and bronze in Balance Beam. This was both athletes’ fourth year competing in Level 2 Artistic Gymnastics at Summer Games.

In the sport of Bocce, SEASPAR athlete Ron Kamper of Indian Head Park earned a gold medal in the Traditional Singles event. This was Kamper’s second year competing at Summer Games.
SEASPAR was represented by three competitors in Athletics (track and field). Samantha Wagner of Woodridge earned silver in her division of the 200M Run, and Connor Brennan of Western Springs took fifth place in his divisions of the 100M Run and Mini Javelin events. Michael Drabik of Woodridge competed in the Pentathlon, which combines five individual events, and earned fifth place.
“Special Olympics isn’t all about winning,” said Matthew Corso, Executive Director of SEASPAR.
“It’s about learning skills, building confidence and celebrating inclusion. Still, there are few things more rewarding than seeing the pride on our athletes’ faces when a medal or ribbon is placed around their necks. That award represents a commitment from the athletes, their families and our coaches to give 100% to their training. It’s important to recognize all of that hard work.”
SEASPAR trains athletes for Special Olympics competitions in Alpine Skiing, Athletics (track and field), Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Flag Football, Floor Hockey, Golf, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Soccer, Softball, Snowshoeing, Swimming, Tennis and Volleyball. SEASPAR’s athletes compete in Special Olympics events throughout the year.
For more information about SEASPAR’s Special Olympics program or other recreational programs and services for individuals with disabilities, visit or call 630-960-7600.

About SEASPAR: The South East Association for Special Parks And Recreation (SEASPAR) provides dynamic recreation programs and quality services for individuals with disabilities served by the park districts of Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, La Grange, La Grange Park, Lemont, Lisle, Westmont, and Woodridge and the villages of Brookfield, Indian Head Park and Western Springs.

Source: Morgan Mason, M.A.Comm., CPRP