DePaepe puts the special in Special Olympics
Cheryl DePaepe has been working with the special needs population in one form or another since 1971.
She started teaching special education at Putnam County in 1971 and took a group to participate in the Chicago Special Olympics games, DePaepe said it was then decided it would be a good idea to host games locally, and the idea of a “Special Sports Jamboree” was born. In 1977, the group was invited to the Special Olympics offices in Bloomington to see if there was interest in starting a Special Olympics chapter.
DePaepe, the longtime director for the Starved Rock Area, said when Special Olympics started, it was a once a year track meet. The area athletes’ interest has grown, and the local Special Olympics chapter now participates in 13 different sports throughout the year.
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