Lunch benefits Special Olympic Illinois athletes

CRYSTAL LAKE — When Brent Kampert was 10, he remembers watching Michael Jordan in action, wanting someday to try basketball himself.

The now-28-year-old Crystal Lake resident, who is epileptic and diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has spent the last 16 years fulfilling that dream as an athlete in the Special Olympics Illinois.

Kampert not only participates in basketball, but also in softball and track and field.

He stood on Friday describing his six-day-a-week training schedule, while his mother and older sister enjoyed a free meal – compliments of Crystal Lake's Texas Roadhouse as part of a statewide Special Olympics fundraiser.
Kampert's mom, Jan, said they attended to support Brent and the organization he loves so much.

"It's changed him," Jan said. "Now he has more self-esteem and he feels like he fits in. ... This is his family right here."

Jointly hosted by the Algonquin and Crystal Lake police departments, the lunch event is one of several events held throughout the year to benefit Special Olympics Illinois, Algonquin officer Josh Latina said.

The departments are part of the McHenry County leg of Special Olympics Illinois.

"People can come in and there's a specific meal that's provided for free ... then they can leave a donation," Latina said. "One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Special Olympics."

Guests at Texas Roadhouse locations across the state were served a pulled pork sandwich, corn, fresh-baked bread and a nonalcoholic beverage.

About 30 minutes into the fundraiser, Crystal Lake Cmdr. Thomas Kretschmer said he was impressed with the number of people who showed up, especially considering it was the first time the event has been held locally.

Latina, who's been involved for eight years, said the various fundraisers help raise enough money for athletes to train year-round at no cost to them.

For Kampert, hours of training helped win him a silver medal in the 100-meter dash last month in New Jersey.
Proudly sporting the medal around his neck, Kampert enjoyed Friday's event, talking with friends and spreading the word about Special Olympics Illinois.

"If anyone wants to try, I say just keep going forward," he said. "Don't let anyone hold you back, and that's how you'll go forward."