ILLINOIS (WMBD) — For months, Special Olympics Illinois athletes have been unable to get out and play the sports they love.
On Saturday, All Elite Wrestling aimed to change that.
AEW and Special Olympics of Illinois hosted a RocketLeague Tournament on Twitch — raising over $1,300 for Special Olympics Illinois.
“We had a Unified RocketLeague tournament with 8 wrestlers and 8 special Olympics Illinois athletes pairing up in a duo Tournament to go head to head against each other,” Mac Dougan, Assistant Director of Development of Special Olympics Illinois said.
AEW pro wrestler Leva Bates, also known as The Librarian, said even though they all had to be distant, the event was a great way to promote social inclusion and to just have a good time.
“We’re blessed and we wanna give it back, wanna pay it forward,” Bates said. “Having friends, having all of these things given to me at a young age definitely cultivated me and helped me learn how to achieve my dreams, push forward, hustle. So I want to give that back.”
Mark Rahn, a Special Olympics athlete, said while he originally was a pro bowling fan growing up, hanging out virtually with pro wrestlers was still pretty cool.
“It just felt amazing. Making new friends online staying safe with COVID,” Rahn said.
Mo Khan, Senior Director for Special Olympics Illinois, said AEW and Special Olympics Illinois have very similar visions.
“They have a brand objective of celebrating diversity and promoting social inclusion. The synergies between them and Special Olympics Illinois couldn’t be any more pronounced,” Khan said.
This is the fourth event the two organizations have done together.
In November of 2019, Special Olympics of Illinois athletes were able to walk out to the ring with the wrestlers in front of a crowd of over 10,000 people at the Sears Center.
“Reach more athletes, raise resources so we can provide better services for the athletes, and make the experience for the athletes one that is increasingly improved,” Khan said.
They’ve also partnered together for a handball tournament at Walter Payton Prep High School in Chicago.
AEW pro wrestler Shanna played in the tournament overseas in France.
“It was a lot of fun to do it with my coworkers and meet new people, have fun,” Shanna said. “I’m leaving next week to spend 14 days in a neutral, non banned county, by Mr. Trump’s proclamation. After 14 days I can enter the United States. Let’s hope for no road blocks.”
Both groups are hoping to continue to have events moving forward.
If you’d like to donate to Special Olympics Illinois, you can here.
- Regional Cross Country Roundup
- Girls Swimming & Diving Sectional Recap
- Non-profit encourages reading for Peoria Public School students
- Local car wash offers a twist on haunted houses
- Purdue rallies to top Iowa 24-20 in West Lafayette