In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics, Oak Brook Polo Club has teamed up with BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center and Special Olympics Illinois to host a celebration fundraiser on Sunday, June 24th at the Prince of Wales Field. The event will feature an equine demonstration while highlighting a number of Special Olympic athletes and take place prior to the finals of the Drake Challenge Cup between Oak Brook (USA) and Escuela de Polo Mexico (Mexico).
“We are honored to partner with the Special Olympics and BraveHearts, and be among Chicago’s professional sports teams to celebrate this momentous occasion and support the Special Olympics movement,” says Jim Drury, President of the Oak Brook Polo Club. “Equestrian sports and therapy has proven to be a successful method in the treatment of mental and physical challenges, and we are thrilled to showcase this to the public under the backdrop of polo. Join us and celebrate this historical achievement.”
In July 1968, nearly one-thousand athletes with intellectual disabilities from twenty-six states and Canada came together at Soldier Field for the first ever International Special Olympics Games. The event became a significant moment in a worldwide civil-rights movement for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Now, fifty years later, Chicago will once again host athletes in a variety of competitions and events from July 17-21st at Toyota Park, Soldier Field and Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.
“We’re grateful to the Oak Brook Polo Club and BraveHearts for the opportunity to bring recognition to the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics,” says Dave Breen, President and CEO, Special Olympics Illinois. “We look forward to celebrating the past, present and future of the movement in our home state – one that served as the birthplace of Special Olympics.”
BraveHearts, a nonprofit organization that provides equine-assisted services to children, adults and military veterans, will organize the equestrian demonstration. They are the largest PATH (Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship) International horse program in the country serving veterans at no cost. The vison of BraveHearts is to bring hope, joy and unlimited possibilities through the healing power of a horse.
“For the last 6 years BraveHearts has hosted the Special Olympics Illinois Equestrian Games giving athletes from various programs and locations across the state a safe and top-quality venue at which they can compete. Our athletes train hard all year and experience so much joy at Special Olympics. We look forward to the Oak Brook Polo giving athletes a rewarding experience as they prepare for the Special Olympics in October, 2018,” states Meggan Hill-McQueeney, BraveHearts President and Chief Operating Officer.
Gates are scheduled to open at 12:30 p.m. with shuttles running to and from the free parking lot at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel (2301 York Road). The Special Olympics equine demonstration will take place at 1:15 p.m., followed by on-field polo festivities at 2:15 p.m. and polo match at 3:00 p.m. Equine athletes and horses will be involved in many of the polo festivities including the team parade, national anthems, divot stomp and post-match trophy ceremonies. Special Olympics volunteers will be onsite during the match collecting donations and helping to run a 50/50 Raffle, which will be preceded with fun raffle giveaways throughout the afternoon before the big draw at the end of the match.
Ticket and event information can be found by visiting www.oakbrookpoloclub.com. Donations to the Special Olympics can be added when purchasing online or onsite in amounts of $5, $10, and $15.