Illinois State University has had a long relationship with Special Olympics Illinois (SOILL). In 1977, the organization moved from Chicago to Normal and was housed at Illinois State’s University High School until it moved into its current headquarters in 1989.

Over the years, the University has hosted Summer Games and the State Basketball Tournament, ISU students have volunteered and are employed at various SOILL offices, and ISU employees have served on the organization’s board of directors. Recently, Illinois State expanded its relationship with Special Olympics.

“We will be able to use this video to promote the organization and the power of sport that our athletes experience all the time.” —Dave Breen

What began as a conversation about how to expand the University’s relationship with SOILL resulted in Illinois State’s University Marketing and Communications (UMC) department producing a 30-second public service video.

Jill Bertelsen, then director for SOILL Heartland/Area 6, approached the University about sponsoring the Bloomington Polar Plunge in 2015. Many of the teams that participate in the Plunge at Miller Park are students at the University.

“Special Olympics made a very compelling case for a partnership,” said R.C. McBride, assistant director of UMC. It was determined that the department would produce a video to further promote the organization.

Filmed at the 2015 Summer Games at Illinois State, the video urges viewers to “Experience the Power of Sport.”

McBride and UMC multimedia supervisor Adam Rahn assigned the project to Illinois State student Stephanie Burns, who with some supervision and guidance did the bulk of the shooting and editing. Before helping with this video, Burns had never worked with Special Olympics Illinois.

“It was a very uplifting experience for me,” said Burns. “I was so honored to get a chance to capture it all.”

Filming took place at a variety of events at the Summer Games. The video profiles the versatility of the athletes and the events Special Olympics offers at the Summer Games.

“I have really enjoyed every video project that I have taken on at Illinois State,” said Burns, “but I truly have a passion for using video to inspire and raise awareness for such an important cause.”

“We appreciate the time and talents that Illinois State University employees and students exhibited in producing this video for us,” said SOILL President and CEO Dave Breen. “We will be able to use this video to promote the organization and the power of sport that our athletes experience all the time.”

“This video is our gift to you (Special Olympics Illinois),” said McBride.

Michele Evans ’88 is director of communications for Special Olympics Illinois.