CHICAGO – The good times came on Saturday at the Special Olympics Bocce Ball tournament in Bridgeport.
Among the contestants was Danny Bauer, who entered Saturday’s competition for his 14th year. Special Olympics Chicago started this popular tournament over 25 years ago. Hence the number of athletes, which increases every year, and those who give of their time to help.
Volunteer Frank Phillips was among those who contributed to the event.
âThe same families that come here every year, just give a day, to come here and give to some of the city of Chicago’s greatest athletes,â Phillips said. “If not the best.”
When Phillips started his job over 15 years ago, the tournament was more than a friendly game.
âWe started with about 15 athletes the first year we ran it,â said Phillips. âTwo years ago, just before the pandemic, we had around 775 children, athletes here. ”
Phillips said he grew to love the tournament, becoming addicted, as he called it, because of his daughter, Mary Jo, who was in high school at the time.
“She said, ‘Daddy, I want to do this for community service,” Phillips said. “‘ Let’s go and help ‘, and I’ve been going on since then.”
Phillips, who lost his daughter 11 years ago, continued his work in her honor.
âIt was very special to her, and it was very dear to her heart and she was always looking to help people and you know what? It’s just one of those things that you just have to experience, âPhillips said.
It is an experience that can mean something different to anyone who has participated in it. For Bauer, that day meant becoming a gold medalist and winning a trip to the state summer games next year.
“How does that feel? WGN asked.
âGood. Really good,” Bauer said. “Really good.”
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