The Jacksonville Saints program provides Special Olympics participation to nearly 100 athletes in the Jacksonville area and beyond. Our program provides competition in seven sports: Basketball, Softball, Athletics (aka Track & Field), Bowling, Volleyball, Flag Football, and Golf. Special Olympics athletes receive a chance to participate in physical activity, a chance to learn sports rules, a chance to learn sportsmanship, a chance to make friends, and a chance to have fun!
The Saints program is one of the stronger downstate Special Olympics programs. This is evident by the sheer number of athletes that compete in our sports, the excitement that the program brings, and yes, even the awards we have received. Our coaches are some of the best around, our volunteer base is excellent and the support we receive from the families is amazing. The smiles on the faces of our athletes show us that we are making a difference.
Awards and Honors that our program have earned over the years:
- 1987 World Games South Bend Indiana- 2 of our athletes competed
- 1987 one of our Coaches received Coach of the Year for Illinois
- 1991 World Games Minneapolis Minnesota- 1 of our athletes competed
- 1995 World Games New Haven Connecticut- 4 of our athletes competed plus 1 coach attended
- 1999 World Games North Carolina- 7 of our athletes competed plus 1 coach attended
- 2006 National Games Iowa- 3 of our athletes competed
- 2010 National Games Nebraska- 4 of our athletes competed
- 2014 National Games New Jersey- 1 of our athletes competed
- 2015 World Games Los Angeles California- 1 of our athletes competed
- 2015 one of our Coaches received Coach of the Year for Area 17
- 2017 one of our Coaches received Coach of the Year for Area 17
- 2018 National Games Seattle Washington- 2 of our athletes competed
- 2019 one of our coaches received Coach of the Year for Region H
Our teams and individuals have won multiple Illinois State titles in many sports. One of our softball teams has even won two North American Tourney titles along two Missouri State Tourney titles.
Athletes from our program have had the chance to compete in the following states throughout the years:
- Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Connecticut, Kentucky, North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, California, Washington, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Virginia, and North Dakota.
Athletes from our program have had the chance to compete against teams from many states and even the following countries:
- Chile, Canada, Germany, Venezuela, Panama, Dominican Republic, England, and Brazil
We have a very strong team sport presence but we have also provided sporting opportunities for individuals. We now offer Athletics, Bowling, and Golf, which are sports that do not require a team. We also have a very strong Individual Skills program in the sports of basketball, softball, and volleyball. Individual Skills provides athletes (who may not be able to participate on a team) a chance to still compete in the sport.
The Saints sponsor is Pathway Services Unlimited, Inc. Although we do not receive direct financial support from Pathway, we receive in-kind support with the ability to use Pathway vehicles and meeting rooms. Funds for the program come through various fundraising efforts such as Trivia Nights and Pizza Kit sales in addition to donations from families and the community. In addition to sports, our program also hosts various dances throughout the year.