CHICAGO (CBS) — History was made Monday night for one Chicago athlete.
Special Olympics Chicago athlete Tommy Shimoda made history on Monday after being inducted into the the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. Shimoda is the first Special Olympics athlete to ever be inducted.
Shimoda, 24, was diagnosed with autism and is non-verbal. He is one of the most accomplished athletes in the Special Olympics Chicago program. He has been an athlete with the Special Olympics Chicago program since he was eight years old, according to SOC. He competes in over 20 different sports, including basketball, softball, volleyball, track and field, swimming, gymnastics, snowshoeing, bowling, bocce, hockey, skiing, and ice skating.
“This is a historic evening for the Special Olympics program whose core mission is to provide inclusion and acceptance for athletes with intellectual disabilities,” said Special Olympics Chicago president, Kevin Magnuson, in a statement. “It is a tremendous and groundbreaking moment to have the first Special Olympics athlete inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, especially in a city which has been home to so many amazing athletes throughout the years. Our sincere thanks to the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and the General Mills Corporation for having the foresight to recognize and understand the amazing achievements of Tommy Shimoda. Tommy is incredibly deserving of these honors. He is a great role model and example of a true athlete for all who are involved in sports.”
Magnuson presented Shimoda a commemorative Wheaties Cereal box with his image, compliments of General Mills Corporation during the ceremony which took place Monday night at Wintrust Arena.
Along with the cereal box came a leader, reading in part, “You are a Wheaties Champion. We are very proud of you and want to present you with this commemorative “Tommy Shimoda” Wheaties Box to acknowledge you, the first Special Olympics athlete to be inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
“Tommy, you are an extraordinary athlete, displaying sportsmanship on and off the field while helping kids with special needs and inspiring us all.”
Shimoda was honored with other distinguished athletes and sports enthusiasts such as Tom Ricketts, Jonathan Toews, Kerry Wood and Hawk Harrelson.
Shimoda’s other accomplishments include being the only athlete from the city of Chicago to qualify this past March, to compete in the Special Olympics World Games, which took place in Schladming, Austria. Shimoda won two medals in speed skating, and brought home gold and bronze medals.
He was also awarded in July an honorary Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award (ESPY). Shimoda was the only Special Olympics athlete from the State of Illinois to be presented this honor.