Beneath the glow of 12 high-definition plasma televisions, riotous sports fans toast to their teams by clinking glasses and smushing burgers together at First Place Sports Bar & Grill. Between sips of cold beer and bites of handheld eats including sandwiches, nachos, and ribs, bar-goers throw wild shots at three dart boards and play 52-ball pickup around the pool table. Numerous video games, such as 2010 Golden Tee Live, Silver Strike, and Big Buck Hunter, jingle in anticipation of a feeding of quarters, while a jukebox offers a custom soundtrack to sporting revelry.
Arlington Park's racetrack hosts a summer season of on-site wagering on live thoroughbred horse races across its sweeping, verdant turf. A blend of vintage and modern, the racetrack's tiered white buildings house myriad dining options—including a café, food court, Mexican restaurant, upscale restaurant, and two casual pubs—which provide a refuge for eager audiences and the horses' proud families. The popular Mr. D's Sports Bar caters to patrons with casual pub fare, including burgers, paninis, and hot dogs. In addition to screening live and off-season races, Mr. D's Sports Bar's TVs air live simulcast racing from around the country and screenings of other sports, such as full-contact chess.
The finish line is a blur of color. Every runner and walker that arrives at Active Care ColorBlast 5K's end point looks like he or she just escaped in slow motion from an exploding chalk factory. In addition to sporting this prismatic new fashion statement, they all seem to have smiles on their faces. That's because the event is more of a celebration than a competition—getting as much color as you can takes precedent over getting the best time you can. In fact, lingering at key points along the 5k route is encouraged. It's at these locations, named color stations, that volunteers toss colored powder—which is made from completely natural and biodegradable food-grade cornstarch—towards the participants, turning their white t-shirts into something akin to tie-die.
More hues wait at the finish line, where group color throws begin immediately after the race's end. As the vibrant cloud rises above the crowd, it announces a collective victory, not just for each participant but the community as a whole. 100% of proceeds from each Color Blast 5k benefits Clearbrook's programs and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.
Fed up with hearing about rude encounters between taxi drivers and the elderly, taxi dispatcher Dan Quiery decided to volunteer time in his retirement to righting these wrongs through Escorted Transportation Service Northwest (ETS/NW). Now the organization's 2011 Volunteer of the Year, according to the Daily Herald, Dan and a team of 70 volunteer drivers at ETS/NW offer both companionship and a vital service as they transport senior citizens to and from medical and dental appointments in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The seniors often have limited transportation options and would not be able to get to their appointments without aid. Though $12 donations are requested for each ride, the drivers chip in their own money to cover the cost of the trip's gas. Still, this does not deter founder Kathy Kasprowicz and her dedicated volunteers—honored with the 2012 STAR Merit Award from The Beverly Foundation—who were proud to have provided 2,453 roundtrip rides throughout the region in 2011 alone.