CHICAGO--August 13, 2015. As students and staff from Roosevelt University’s Academic Success Center marched recently for the first time ever in Chicago’s Disability Pride Parade, Roosevelt journalism alumnus Daniel Smrokowski (BA, ’12) was there to capture the moment. (Smrokowski is pictured above carrying the torch on the final leg for the recent Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles).
“It was inspiring for me to be with my friends from the Academic Success Center and to see how many people there are in our community helping people with disabilities,” said Smrokowski, of LaGrange Park, Ill., who is becoming widely known for his reports on people with disabilities.
During the July 18 parade, Smrokowski reunited with his friends and mentors from the Academic Success Center, capturing them marching and singing at the parade on a new video, including a clip below.
“It was an uplifting experience for all of us,” said Academic Success Center Director Nancy Litke whose team carried a banner introducing the Center and wore t-shirts that proclaimed this message: “Label Clothes. Not People." “It was a day that made me realize how many people with disabilities we’ve been able to help over the years,” added Litke whose team was among the 100 parade contingents celebrating 25 years since the signing of the nation’s Americans with Disabilities Act.
Roosevelt’s Academic Success Center annually accommodates approximately 200 students with special needs, providing them with coaching, mentoring, auxiliary aids, quiet rooms, technology and/or equipment that can make the difference to their graduating and becoming successful.
Smrokowski is one of the Academic Success Center’s amazing success stories.
Coping with a severe intellectual disability since birth, he is the former manager of Roosevelt’s WRBC: The Blaze radio station and the founder of Special Chronicles, a website at http://www.specialchronicles.com/ where he tells stories and shares podcasts with interviews about the many accomplishments by people with disabilities. To date, Special Chronicles has had nearly 30,000 visitors.
This summer, Smrokowski also has been a leading journalist among more than 1,500 media outlets covering 650,000 athletes from 166 countries at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
His first time covering the event, the Roosevelt graduate landed exclusive interviews with many athletes. He met people from around the world who have visited his Special Chronicles site. He carried the torch on its final leg to the Games. And he had unlimited access to all of the competitive events, joining athletes as they celebrated their medals, as well as sharing their stories of success in overcoming obstacles.
“If there was an award for most enthusiastic coverage of this year’s Games, he would win it,” Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, Inc. said recently of Smrokowski, who agrees it was a really, really good summer.
“I was empowered by the Games. I’d never seen anything like that before,” he said. “I’m thankful for my Roosevelt experience. It gave me the tools I needed to become an effective journalist and advocate for Americans with disabilities,” Smrokowski added. “And I have to say I was most proud to be able to celebrate how far we’ve come at this year’s parade with my friends from Roosevelt.”
Janice Stashwick, senior secretary in the Academic Success Center and one of the founders of Chicago’s Disability Pride Parade, is hoping that the parade becomes a Roosevelt tradition. And students like Isaly Corona, a Roosevelt psychology major who receives services at the Academic Success Center, is enthusiastic about participating again next year.
“It’s something that truly brings us together as a community,” said Corona. “I can’t wait to be part of this again.”
Source from a PRESS RELEASE Aug 13, 2015: www.roosevelt.edu