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Families, volunteers come out for Marklund games

BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – Rilee Vest leaned over Kate, a resident of Marklund at Mill Creek, and encouraged her to roll the ball one more time.

"Come on," Vest, 21, of Elburn said, but Kate had had enough. She was done with all the exercises of the facility's 28th Annual Marklund Summer Games, held Saturday on its campus in the Mill Creek subdivision near Geneva.

Marklund provides housing and services for developmentally disabled infants, children and adults. Its Geneva campus is for adults. Marklund does not provide last names for its clients.

Vest, a special education student and her brother, J.R. Vest, 18, were among 300 volunteers who helped out in the Marklund version of the Special Olympics.

Spokeswoman Dawn Lassiter-Brueske said 100 clients, including 96 residents and four day clients, participated in the various adaptive games, all with the help of family, staff and volunteers.

"Our clients have such profound developmental disabilities, that they cannot participate in Special Olympics, they have to be assisted – so we basically created our own," Lassiter-Brueske said.

"We had a baseball game, games and activities on every one of our patios of the residential homes as well as indoors," Lassiter-Brueske said. "We had some walking races and wheelchair races. Everything is assisted with the help of volunteers."

Other than staff, most volunteers who participated were from Christ Community Church in St. Charles, Lassiter Brueske said.

Amy Nelson of Batavia coordinated the 120 Christ Community Church volunteers for the Marklund event.

"It's very important because it brings all the families and volunteers together in one place annually,"

Nelson said. "It's a fun event for the clients here at Marklund. And it gives the opportunity of sharing and being together as families."

After the games, clients, volunteers, guests and families joined in a cookout, including Jim and Diane Jacobsen of Chicago, who were visiting their daughter, Kristen, 20, who lives at Marlklund.

"Kristen's only lived here a year, so this is our first time," Diane Jacobsen said. "It's great getting to see her and getting involved with the different events. ... It's a great time to come out and have family and friends."

Jim Jacobsen said activities like this are important for his daughter.

"So she can get out and see other people and interact with a lot of different environments and different things that they have," he said.

The family of Felicia Gore of Joliet agreed with the Jacobsen's assessment.

Gore's son Randy, 24, who is developmentally disabled, still lives at home with her, she said.

But her sister, Tamisha Morris, 34, lives at Marklund. Gore's daughter, Amber, 18, and Tamisha's mother, Corine Pitchford, also of Joliet, came to the event.

And though he did not participate in the games, Randy enjoyed watching them.

"I'm having fun," Randy said.

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