NORMAL – Governor Pat Quinn today will visit the 2014 Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies to sign legislation that creates a "Go for the Gold" Lottery ticket to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. Proceeds from this new scratch-off game will provide funding for increased opportunities for Special Olympics athletes across the state. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to ensure all people have the opportunity to follow their dreams and reach their full potential.
“Special Olympics Illinois is a treasure to our state and to the many Illinois residents who benefit from their spirit of giving,” Governor Quinn said. “We are so proud of our athletes and their determination both on and off the playing field. With this new Lottery ticket, we can help Special Olympics Illinois ensure more of our competitors are able to ‘Go for the Gold.’”
“We are incredibly grateful for this new initiative that will allow Special Olympics Illinois to continue transforming the lives of both current and future generations of Special Olympics Athletes,” Special Olympics Illinois President and CEO Dave Breen said. “Funds raised from this game will lead to further innovation and program growth, and expand opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families and volunteers throughout Illinois.”
Senate Bill 219, sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and State Representative Frances Ann Hurley (D-Chicago), creates the new $2 "Go for the Gold" scratch-off instant ticket. The ticket will be available early next year at 8,200 Lottery retailers across Illinois and is expected to raise nearly $700,000 in its first year for Special Olympics athletes and events across Illinois. The revenue will be used to support athlete training, competitions and programs for present and future Special Olympic athletes. It cannot be used for institutional, organization, or community-based overhead, indirect costs or levies. The new law takes effect immediately.
“Today we are honoring our Special Olympic Athletes by creating the ‘Go for the Gold’ lottery ticket,” Senator Hunter said. “This ticket will raise much-needed dollars to fund statewide training programs and competitions. Some of the money will also help our next generation of Olympians by supporting the Special Children’s Charities Fund.”
“Go for the Gold” joins the ranks of other Lottery specialty games that raise money for specific causes like Illinois Veterans, the fight against breast cancer, MS research and assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS. “Go for the Gold” tickets have potential prizes of up $20,000, and overall odds of winning a prize will be about 1 in 4.65 tickets.
“Specialty instant games like ‘Go for the Gold’ are what the Lottery is all about,” Lottery Director Michael Jones said. “I’m confident that once this game becomes available, thousands of people will ask for it by name as a way to provide valuable funding for Special Olympics athletes across Illinois. It is a great cause that the Lottery is proud to be supporting it.”
A number of the athletes gathered in Normal for this year’s statewide Special Olympics competition are leaving this weekend to attend the 2014 USA Games, along with over 3,000 Special Olympics athletes from around the country.
Special Olympics Illinois provides opportunities for more than 21,000 athletes, 40,000 volunteers and thousands more people statewide through 18 Area programs in all 102 counties of the state. Special Olympics began in Illinois with the first games at Chicago’s Soldier Field in July 1968. There are now more than four million Special Olympic athletes in 170 countries.
The Special Olympics mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Governor Quinn has been recognized both nationally and locally as a champion for people with disabilities. Two years ago, the Governor launched his Rebalancing Initiative to improve the state’s system of caring for those with disabilities and mental health challenges. The initiative has successfully moved hundreds of people with disabilities out of institutions and into community-based care. The Governor has also introduced, fought for and signed the Employment First law that breaks down barriers for people with developmental disabilities to increase opportunities for employment. Just last week, the Governor signed an Executive Order creating the Employment First Liaison who will work with state agencies to develop a five-year plan to improve community integrated private employment outcomes for people with disabilities.