Matt Feeney and Joel Berman share a disability and a dream. Feeney broke his neck diving off a 100-foot cliff and Berman lost his ability to walk after a runaway flatcar hit him while laying rail tracks. Together they founded Adaptive Adventures to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through participation in sports and outdoor recreation. The organization runs progressive sports programs year-round for children, adults, and service members who have been severely injured in conflicts abroad. They cater to people with a wide range of disabilities, including spinal-cord injuries, amputations, and cerebral palsy. The programs help build confidence and social skills in participants who could not otherwise afford equipment, training, and travel for recreational sports.
The Kindness Connection works with local charities to define service projects that meet their needs. We then design the projects, procure the required materials, and organize schools, groups and/or individuals to complete the projects.
The organizers of Double Denim Bar Crawl have two goals: raise awareness of autism and have fun doing it. Their yearly bar crawls through historic Wringleyville gather revelers suited up from head to toe in denim jeans, jackets, and shirts to let loose amid raffles, dance-offs, and debates on the cultural degradation caused by khaki. Contests including ring toss and a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament complement prizes for best and worst double denim, denim princess, and achievement for drinking excellence. Celebrants can feel good about every sudsy libation they imbibe since profits of the crawl go to the Chicagoland Chapter of Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to funding autism research, spreading awareness, and advocating for the individuals and families affected by autism.
The soft glow of 30,919 carved pumpkins lit up the night sky on Saturday, October 22, 2011—the night the town of Highwood set the Guinness world record for most jack-o’-lanterns lit in one location. And this year should be no different. The three-day Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival, which has gained coverage from The Rosie Show and Trib Local, invites guests from all over the country to contribute to its wall of carved pumpkins, an experience that will be captured by HGTV’s “Pumpkin Wars”.
Patrons can decorate prescooped pumpkins at the designated carving stations (or bring their own precarved candidate) as they enjoy a weekend of live music on multiple stages, treats from local vendors, a gourmet farmers’ market on Saturday, hayrides, and a New Orleans–inspired night parade. Participants can even test out their newly carved pumpkin sneakers during the festival’s 5K run, which raises funds and awareness for the Leukemia Research Foundation. The festival culminates with the lighting of the wall of jack-o’-lanterns at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and, when all is said and done, pumpkins won’t be left in the dark as their owners are encouraged to take their record-breaking masterpieces home with them.
Some might view an empty city lot overrun with broken bottles, weeds, and loiterers as an eyesore to be avoided. Karen Trout and Laura Michel saw it as an opportunity for action. Thanks to these women, three empty lots—located on the corner of Avers Avenue and Cermak Road in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood—became the Avers Community Garden, a project that won first prize in Placemaking Chicago's 2012 Space in Between contest.
In addition to flourishing gardens where residents grow their own produce, the space hosts educational after-school and summer programs for neighborhood children. These kids help maintain the garden by picking up trash, watering plants, and pulling weeds—but they also have plenty of time to play, thanks to a gravel bike track and, in the future, safe playground equipment.