“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

This motto was coined by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in July 1968 at the inaugural Special Olympics competition, held at Soldier Field in Chicago. The event, along with the motto live on, and the organization is quite active in Northwest Indiana.

From Monday, Feb. 26 through Sunday, March 3, Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County will be the beneficiary of Strack & Van Til’s Checkout Challenge Round Up. Customers across the Region can choose to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar when shopping at their local Strack & Van Til store. Those extra funds will be donated to the organization.

Lake County Coordinator Teresa Parker says 100% of the proceeds from the Strack & Van Til Round Up will fund programming and all related expenses including uniforms, equipment, transportation, fees, medals, awards and more.

According to its website, “Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County is a volunteer-led accredited local program providing opportunities for Special Olympics athletes in Lake County, Indiana, to participate in a wide variety of year-round sports, health, education and leadership programs designed to help end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities.”

The organization’s mission is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, offering them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.” (

Parker notes the local chapter includes 307 athletes, ages 8 to 76. She adds that some athletes participate well into their 90s if they’re physically able to compete. There are also 100 coaches and volunteers who work closely with the athletes.

“Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County has been instrumental in helping athletes forge friendships and creates a support group for them and for their families,” says Parker. “Not only do the athletes show great sportsmanship, but they also help each other and cheer one another on. I’ve seen so many of them grow from this program.”

Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County offers year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Sports include bowling, bocce ball, golf, powerlifting, volleyball, corn toss, walking club, basketball, track and field, softball, cycling, snowshoeing and Alpine skiing.

Parker says athletes especially look forward to competing in Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County summer and winter games. In the summer, the group takes over Indiana State University in Terre Haute. Athletes stay in the dorms and compete in the three-day event. All participants are required to undergo a physical examination before they can compete, as well as having their hearing, teeth, feet and eyes checked, often getting fit for glasses, if needed. Winter games are held for three days in Lawrenceburg, where athletes go skiing, snowshoeing and tubing.

The organization has its own golf team that tours the state, playing at a variety of courses. The athletes who participate in Special Olympics tournaments play four rounds of three-, six- or nine-hole golf, are paired with a Unified Sports® partner and hit every other ball. Unified team play allows athletes and Unified partners to develop basic golf skills, rules and etiquette in a team format.

In addition to athletic competitions, Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County sponsors Athlete Leadership University. Held at Butler University in Indianapolis, the program offers athletes the opportunity to earn degrees in Communications, Events, Governance, Health and Fitness, Sports, Technology and Visual Art.

The Athlete Leadership Council is composed of member athletes who meet and choose activities they want brought to the Lake County group.

The partnership with Strack & Van Til, Parker notes, makes a significant impact. “I am so thankful for all that Strack & Van Til has done for Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County. We’ve been able to do so much for our athletes because of the Round Up,” she says. “We also would like to thank all of the customers who donate.”

Parker also notes that many of the Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County athletes are employed by Strack & Van Til Food Markets.

Strack & Van Til continues its more than 94-year tradition of philanthropy by raising funds through the Checkout Challenge Round Up program to help organizations in the communities they serve throughout Northwest Indiana.

President and CEO Jeff Strack credits the success of the Checkout Challenge Round Ups to Strack & Van Til customer generosity and the commitment of Strack & Van Til employees.

“Our customers are the ones who give back to the community, and we are so grateful for them. Our stores, with the help of our employees, simply provide our customers with an outlet to give to some of their favorite local organizations,” he explains.

Show your support for the special athletes at Special Olympics Indiana – Lake County by participating in Strack & Van Til’s Checkout Challenge Round Up.

For more information on programs, to volunteer or to donate, visit To learn more about Strack & Van Til’s community involvement, visit