Soccer team for kids with disabilities raise money with lemonade stand

WRIGLEYVILLE — On your way to the Cubs game Saturday, you might notice a lemonade stand manned by a particularly enthusiastic 8-year-old with an infectious smile.

Cormac Friedlander (center) poses with family members during a Chicago SuperStars TopSoccer practice last spring. Jennifer Friedlander.

By Jessica Cabe, DNAinfo Chicago September 8, 2017

That 8-year-old is Cormac Friedlander, a winner of this year’s Guaranteed Rate and the Chicago White Sox Guaranteed Impact Award. The boy was recognized for working with his mom, Jennifer Friedlander, to create a soccer team for kids with disabilities called Chicago SuperStars TopSoccer.

Cormac was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was two.

Cormac Friedlander, 8, Francis W. Parker helped bring the first adaptive soccer program for special needs children to the city of Chicago.
As a child with cerebral palsy, Cormac stopped trying to play soccer with kids at recess due to his condition, which affects coordination, agility and speed. He desperately wanted to play and sought to start his own team. While US Youth Soccer has an outreach program called TOPSoccer, there was not a team in the city. Cormac was determined to bring the first TOPSoccer team to Chicago and, thanks to his determination, on April 11 the Chicago Super Stars were born. This new team allows kids like Cormac to achieve their dream of playing soccer. GlobeNewswire

The lemonade stand will open at 1 p.m. Saturday, in advance of the 3 p.m. Cubs game, at the corner of Addison Street and Greenview Avenue. Proceeds will be used to help cover the costs of running Chicago SuperStars.

Jennifer Friedlander said they set up a lemonade stand last week at the Bucktown Arts Fest on Aug. 26 and 27 and were able to raise more than $200.

That’s no small portion of the $1,000 Friedlander said she will need to operate through their upcoming fall season, which begins on Sept. 18. She said running lemonade stands is the perfect way to raise money while keeping her son involved.

“He’s one of the founders of this team, and I think he needs to have that role in the hard work of running it,” she said. “Getting the money doesn’t just happen overnight; we need to work together to get this team off the ground.”

Friedlander said she got the idea for starting a soccer team for children with disabilities about a year ago when she noticed other young boys in her neighborhood playing soccer before school. When she asked Cormac why he wasn’t joining in, he said any time he tried, he never got the ball.

She started looking into options for her son to play sports in an environment that would work for him.

“There’s a lot of stuff for adults, but not a lot of programs that are for kids with something like cerebral palsy or even autism where they need a lot of extra support in order to engage in these sports successfully,” she said.

So she suggested to Cormac that they should start a team.

“As soon as I said that, it totally lit a fire inside my son’s head, and he would not let it go,” she said.

Chicago SuperStars started in January, and had its first season of activity beginning in April. Its second season starts up on Sept. 18 and Friedlander said she hopes more kids like Cormac join in.

The team will meet 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. every Monday at Waveland Park at Waveland Avenue and Lake Shore Drive through Nov. 6.

Kids will spend about 40 minutes on skills and drills, such as passing, shooting goals, overhead throws and they will participate in a scrimmage during the last 15 to 20 minutes. A coach, physical therapist, occupational therapist and “buddies” without disabilities will be on site to facilitate the practice.

Friedlander said the $1,000 needed to make it through the fall season includes the coach’s salary, renting the park, purchasing jerseys and T-shirts and any other operational costs that come up.

Now that Cormac has won a Guaranteed Impact Award, he’s been getting a lot more attention, including appearing on ABC7’s “Windy City Live.” The award is making him want to be even more engaged with Chicago SuperStars.

“It’s making him feel special and like he really is making an impact on the community, which I don’t think he fully understood before,” Friedlander said.

Source DNAinfo Chicago

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