Special olympians meet favorite cartoon characters


Sydney Edwards

The Mattoon High School JROTC color guard marches down the parade route to present the colors during the singing of the National Anthem on saturday. The JROTC colorguard consisted of cadets Sam Uphoff, Elijah Milligan, Trenton Bitting and Toni Enlow.

Sydney Edwards, Copy Editor

As the national anthem was sung during the annual Special Olympics Family Festival on Saturday, the Olympians waited to meet their friend-for-a-day buddies and favorite cartoon characters.

Cheryl Cunico, a volunteer for the festival, said she takes pleasure in volunteering with the festival.

“I saw an ad in the paper eight years ago, and have been volunteering ever since,” Cunico said. “I enjoy seeing the people. It’s a good time.”

Cunico worked as one of the volunteer positions in the food tent during the event.

Individuals can sign up to be a general volunteer where they can help with games or serving food.

Volunteers can even be a friend-for-a-day, which allows them to be paired with an Olympian during the festival.

The Olympians got to pick whom they wanted as their friend-for-a-day.

The festival volunteers put the Olympians in front of the group of volunteers and told them to pick whom they wanted to spend the day with.

As soon as the Olympians chose the friend, they grabbed their hand with a big smile on their face as they walked away.

Many of the friends-for-a-day volunteers came from Eastern and the festival committee gave special thanks for those who came out.

The event consisted of many Special Olympians from all over the area and community, and even a few dressed up as cartoon characters.

The theme for this year’s festival was “Toon Town.”

Olympians at the event were able to meet cartoon characters from various shows and movies such as: The Cookie Monster, Woody from “Toy Story,” and Scooby-Doo.

During the opening ceremonies, torches were lit along with a balloon release, as well as a parade allowing the participants to line up and wave at parade walkers.

The cartoon characters, the Mattoon, Lake Land and Coles County police departments, the Mattoon fire department, and even Santa walked down the route to meet the Olympians with warm smiles.

After the opening ceremony, the Olympians were able to go to different tents to play games, sing karaoke and get temporary tattoos.

Special Olympics will take place at Eastern again in Spring 2016, and the Family Festival will take place at Lake Land again next fall.


Sydney Edwards can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]