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Area Special Olympics Illinois athletes surprised with Team Illinois invitation to 2022 USA Games

PONTIAC (WEEK) -- Two Special Olympics Illinois athletes were surprised with news they would be part of Team Illinois representing Special Olympics Illinois at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games next June in Orlando.

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs visited athletes Brandy Stowers and Brian Antczak, who compete with Team AIR Pontiac.

Both Stowers and Antczak also learned that the IL ABLE Program will help sponsor the cost of Illinois athletes to participate in the USA Games, according to a release from the Special Olympics Illinois.

Special Olympics Illinois does not charge athletes to compete in the USA Games events, so the organization relies on funding from people and groups to make it possible for athletes to attend.

Through its support of this event, the IL ABLE Program hopes to make all Special Olympics athletes and their families aware of the benefits of having an IL ABLE account for people with disabilities. IL ABLE accounts are savings and investment accounts that eligible people with disabilities and their families can open to help themselves by building greater financial independence and improved quality of life while preserving benefits.

“Before the IL ABLE Program, families with loved ones with disabilities were discouraged and penalized for saving and investing,” Treasurer Frerichs said. “The Illinois Treasurer’s office is proud to have started IL ABLE so that eligible Illinoisans with disabilities, including many Special Olympics athletes, can improve their financial independence, health and quality of life.”

Twenty-five-year-old Brandy has been competing with Special Olympics for ten years. She enjoys walks and video games and, when she’s not competing, she works at Accolade and resides in a group home. Brian, 42, has been competing with Special Olympics for 15 years. He works at Stroller International and has previously enjoyed traveling to Florida to visit family.

The full Illinois team announcement will come later this fall.

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