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Joliet Park District holds inaugural Illumination Celebration

Anthony Evans said he finds great support in the recreational opportunities made available to him through the Joliet Park District. Programs offered by the park district help him meet different people, the Joliet resident said. But, that’s not all.

“The coaches,” Evans added, “[teach us] how to get along with each other.”

The Joliet Park District was met with a crowd of support Sept. 24 during a gathering held at the Bird Haven Greenhouse to benefit programming for people with disabilities.

The fundraiser, dubbed the “Illumination Celebration,” was designed to bring to light the community’s need for recreational opportunities for those with special needs.

Kathy Green, recreation superintendent for the Joliet Park District, said the goal of the inaugural fundraiser was to offer the community a different kind of feel.

“We’ve done our candlelight bowl for the last 15 years,” she said, adding that they wanted to come up with a new event. “Our staff had a meeting… and came up with this type of event—a nice laid back dancing, appetizer, casual affair.”

Park district staff set a fundraising goal of $15,000 for the first-year event, but Green said that target had been surpassed.

Money raised during the Illumination Celebration will be used to help individuals with special needs participate in park district programs, according to Green.

Evans was one of more than 200 people who attended the celebration. He said he was enjoying his time at the fundraiser.

“It’s nice,” he said.

Evans has been involved in recreational activities made available through the Joliet Park District for the last seven years. He said his favorite sport is softball because he has a good feeling for the game and it captures his attention.

Gina Rodriguez, fitness superintendent, said it’s important that people realize how important it is to support the needs of people with disabilities. Without fundraisers, they might not be able to participate in park district programs.

“It’s very important for people with special needs to have a taste of the real life,” she said. “Inclusion and getting to be part of what everybody gets to do… that is important for everybody.”

Because of the positive turnout, Green said the Joliet Park District is looking to hold the fundraiser again next year.

“It’s a done deal,” she stated.

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