Have you always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby? West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) has a great alternative to driving down to Louisville. WSSRA will be hosting their annual Derby Gala fundraiser on Saturday afternoon, May 3, 2014 in the Turf Club at Hawthorne Race Course, 3501 S. Laramie in Cicero, from 3:00-7:00pm. A light dinner, beer and wine, a derby hat and tie contest, raffles and a silent auction are included in the day. Guests can enjoy off-track wagering and view a simulcast of the running of the 140th Kentucky Derby. WSSRA raises funds at this event to increase recreation opportunities for persons from Oak Park, Forest Park, Berwyn, Cicero, Norridge, Harwood Heights, Franklin Park, Elmwood Park and River Forest with disabilities served by the Association.

Illinois Senators Don Harmon and Martin Sandoval, State Representatives LaShawn K. Ford and Camille K. Lilly, and Village of Elmwood Park President Angelo “Skip” Saviano are this year’s Steering Committee Chairmen.

We hope to raise $50,000 at the Derby Gala. Our silent auction, the ad book, raffle and ticket proceeds will bring in needed funds. In addition to raising funds, our guests also provide encouragement to WSSRA and the families we serve. Their attendance at this event shows WSSRA staff and participants that WSSRA’s mission to provide quality recreation to individuals with disabilities is worthwhile. The legislators’ and town officials’ presence at this event demonstrate their support for individuals with disabilities,” said Marianne Birko, WSSRA Executive Director.

The West Suburban Special Recreation Foundation is also accepting items for the silent auction which will run from 3:00 to 6:45pm that day. A raffle for a 16 GB iPad, and $500 and $200 cash prizes will also be featured at the WSSRA Derby Gala. Raffle tickets are $25.00 each or 5 tickets for $100.00. Winner need not be present to win. For more information about WSSRA visit Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Association office at 847-455-2100. Event tickets are $85.00 each.

WSSRA provides therapeutic recreation programs for children and adults. Social, skill development, art, athletic and fitness programs for people with disabilities are offered. “Providing therapeutic recreation for individuals with disabilities is costly. WSSRA staff members are specially trained to provide close supervision; even one–on-one staffing is given when a participant needs that intense level of care in order to be successful. WSSRA provides accessible transportation and scholarship assistance for some of the programs. Our member communities provide the majority of our funding but the need to serve even more eligible residents continues to grow. Fund-raisers, like the Derby Gala allow us to maintain and possibly expand our service. We are grateful to receive community support at these events,” Birko stated.