By Doug Halberstadt
At 2 p.m., tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 20) the Herbert H. Hodges Track and Fitness Complex will be dedicated. The ceremony will take place in front of friends, family, staff and workers at Illinois Growth Enterprises (IGE), 7200 Clinton Road, Loves Park.
“This project took over 15 years of planning,” exclaimed Dale Sanders, IGE’s CEO. “I recall Cedric’s [Blazer] surprise announcement at our 25th anniversary. He wanted to honor his mentor and friend, Herb Hodges. Mr. Hodges was the first executive director of Illinois Growth Enterprises back in 1970.”
Cedric Blazer, a successful businessman and philanthropist, contributed funds to IGE for the quarter-mile, European-style track that will be located on the IGE property. Blazer passed away in June 2008. Following his wishes, his foundation trustees have named the track in honor of Blazer’s Beloit College track coach and mentor, Herbert H. Hodges. The two men were life-long friends. Tomorrow’s dedication date would have been Blazer’s 79th birthday.
Blazer believed he was fortunate to have been born in America, where freedom and opportunity abound. He believed, however, that despite the many opportunities afforded most Americans eager to work, for those born with disabilities, the “playing field” would never be even. Blazer believed he had the duty and the obligation to even that playing field.
The new track makes it possible for the adults with disabilities working at IGE to participate in fitness activities during their breaks. Area-wide Special Olympic teams will also be able to use the track for practice sessions. Debbie Kelly, Special Olympics Northwest Illinois director, states: “We are so excited about having a practice facility available for all of our teams. Our participants will enjoy using this complex to prepare for track-and-field competitions as well as soccer and bocce ball tournaments. It will be great for one of our more popular winter sports, too—snowshoeing.”
For more information concerning the dedication ceremony, contact Valerie Johnson at Illinois Growth Enterprises, (815) 962-8333.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Aug. 19-25, 2009 issue