Northlake hosts Special Olympics tourney
Morgan Figgins walks with Lauren Kenny, both Oak Park, as they compete in a bocce ball event Sept. 15 at Grant Park Recreation Center in Northlake. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:58PM
NORTHLAKE — Grant Park in Northlake was filled with the sound of clicking bocce balls Saturday.
The regional bocce ball tournament for Special Olympics attracted participants from Cook, DuPage and Kendall counties Saturday. Competition winners will participate in the state tournament in Bloomington-Normal in June.
Bocce is played on a court with small balls made of metal or plastic. A smaller ball called a “jack” or “pallino” is tossed to one end. Players then try to get their ball as close to the jack as possible.
Participants Saturday ranged in age from middle school to their 60s, Special Olympics Illinois Area Director Katie Grisham said. Participants have intellectual disabilities or cognitive delays.
Among the participating teams was a unified team – one person with an intellectual disability and one without – from Veterans Park District.
“It was a long day, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Veterans Park District Special Recreation Supervisor Dawn Stangle said. “They set up 32 courts, which is awesome.”
The Veterans unified team brought home a gold medal.
“Awards are the best,” Stangle said. “When you see them get gold or even a fourth place ribbon, it’s amazing how excited they are for themselves and their teammates and even for people on the other teams.
“Good sportsmanship runs very thick in the Special Olympics.”