By this point, you know the Chicago Wolves revealed their commemorative St. Patrick’s Day jerseys during Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime triumph over Utica. As you’re contemplating a bid on these unique jerseys, you might not be quite as certain how this charitable endeavor directly benefits everyone in the Chicago area. Take a moment to meet Maurice Snell and Jamie Smith: two young men from Chicago diagnosed with autism at an early age. They’re representative of the work done by Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago, an organization that operates 21 programs and serves 38,000 people annually.
By this point, you know the Chicago Wolves revealed their commemorative St. Patrick’s Day jerseys during Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime triumph over Utica.
You know the team will wear the green jerseys for two more home games — Saturday’s 7 p.m. contest against Utica and Sunday’s 3 p.m. game against Rockford – while conducting jersey auctions and raffles at Allstate Arena that benefit Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago and Chicago Wolves Charities.
As you’re contemplating a bid on these unique jerseys, you might not be quite as certain how this charitable endeavor directly benefits everyone in the Chicago area.
So, please, take a moment to meet Maurice Snell and Jamie Smith: two young men from Chicago diagnosed with autism at an early age. They’re representative of the work done by Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago, an organization that operates 21 programs and serves 38,000 people annually.
They drove to the Wolves game together on Wednesday – Snell behind the wheel and Smith singing along to all of the rock-n-roll classics on the radio.
Before Smith was honored during the pregame puck drop, they participated in an Easter Seals meet-and-greet event in Allstate Arena’s Jack Daniel’s Lounge prior to the game.
Snell, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 5, and Smith, diagnosed when he was 4, both started attending Easter Seals’ Therapeutic School shortly afterward. The school prides itself on the hands-on, individual attention provided to each student.
“My parents put me into various programs, but none of them worked out in the beginning,” Snell said. “Then they found Easter Seals and I started to develop and change. It helped me communicate more. It helped me academically. I’m grateful for the services that were offered to me by Easter Seals.”
After eight years at the Therapeutic School, Snell mainstreamed into a public high school. Upon graduation, he enrolled at St. Xavier University on Chicago’s South Side and earned his bachelor’s degree in 2006. Throughout that time, he handled administrative duties for Easter Seals, which included a full-time position at the Therapeutic School. Now he serves as Development Coordinator at Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago.
“It’s demanding at times,” Snell said, “but I enjoy working at Easter Seals.”
Smith, meanwhile, benefited from Easter Seals’ Therapeutic School to the point where he holds down a pair of jobs: He works as a custodian for Easter Seals and is employed by Pete’s Produce on the city’s south side. He has held the latter job for 14 years.
In his spare time, he developed into the school’s most well-rounded athlete (competing in powerlifting, track, softball, basketball, snowshoeing and swimming) and traveled halfway across the world to compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
In October 2007, he went to Shanghai, China, for the World Summer Games and came home with two silver and two bronze medals to show for his powerlifting prowess. The Illinois House of Representatives recognized his feat with a special resolution.
“The Olympics were great for me,” Smith said. “I did well.”
So when you’re in Allstate Arena’s Southeast Lobby at Saturday’s and Sunday’s games and debating whether to spend a few bucks on a jersey raffle or determining how much to bid in the silent auction, keep in mind how far these donations go.
“Easter Seals has given me a great opportunity to grow into an independent, employed young man,” Snell said. “I would not be where I am today without the support system of my parents, my peers and the people I work with.
“I’m grateful for what Easter Seals has given to me and the chance to inspire others, which is why I continue to work there. We’re grateful for the Chicago Wolves partnering with Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago.”