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Soccer Team For Kids With Disabilities Raises Money With Lemonade Stand

By Jessica Cabe | September 8, 2017 4:20pm | Updated on September 12, 2017 11:46am
 Cormac Friedlander (center) poses with family members during a spring Chicago SuperStars TopSoccer practice.
Cormac Friedlander (center) poses with family members during a spring Chicago SuperStars TopSoccer practice.
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Provided/Jennifer Friedlander

WRIGLEYVILLE — On your way to the Cubs game Saturday, you might have noticed a lemonade stand manned by a particularly enthusiastic 8-year-old with an infectious smile.

That 8-year-old is Cormac Friedlander, a winner of this year’s Guaranteed Rate and the Chicago White Sox’s Guaranteed Impact Award. The boy was recognized for working with his mom, Jennifer Friedlander, to create a soccer team for kids with disabilities called Chicago SuperStars TopSoccer.

Cormac was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 2.

The lemonade stand opened at 1 p.m. Saturday, before the 3 p.m. Cubs game, at Addison Street and Greenview Avenue. Proceeds will be used to help cover the costs of running Chicago SuperStars.

Jennifer Friedlander said they set up a lemonade stand at the Bucktown Arts Fest on Aug. 26 and 27 and were able to raise more than $200.

That’s no small portion of the $1,000 Friedlander said she will need to operate through their upcoming fall season, which begins on Sept. 18. She said running lemonade stands is the perfect way to raise money while keeping her son involved.

“He’s one of the founders of this team, and I think he needs to have that role in the hard work of running it,” she said. “Getting the money doesn’t just happen overnight; we need to work together to get this team off the ground.”

Friedlander said she got the idea for starting a soccer team for children with disabilities about a year ago when she noticed other young boys in her neighborhood playing soccer before school. When she asked Cormac why he wasn’t joining in, he said any time he tried, he never got the ball.

She started looking into options for her son to play sports in an environment that would work for him.

“There’s a lot of stuff for adults, but not a lot of programs that are for kids with something like cerebral palsy or even autism where they need a lot of extra support in order to engage in these sports successfully,” she said.

So she suggested to Cormac that they start a team.

“As soon as I said that, it totally lit a fire inside my son’s head, and he would not let it go,” she said.

Chicago SuperStars started in January, and had its first season of activity beginning in April. Its second season starts Sept. 18, and Friedlander said she hopes more kids like Cormac join.

The team will meet from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. every Monday at Waveland Park at Waveland Avenue and Lake Shore Drive through Nov. 6.

Kids will spend about 40 minutes on skills and drills, like passing, shooting goals and overhead throws, and they will participate in a scrimmage during the last 15 to 20 minutes. A coach, physical therapist, occupational therapist and “buddies” without disabilities will be on site to facilitate the practice.

Friedlander said the $1,000 needed to make it through the fall season includes the coach's salary, renting the park, buying jerseys and T-shirts and any other operational costs that come up.

Now that Cormac has won a Guaranteed Impact Award, he’s been getting a lot more attention, including appearing on ABC7's "Windy City Live." The award is making him want to be even more engaged with Chicago SuperStars.

“It’s making him feel special and like he really is making an impact on the community, which I don’t think he fully understood before,” Friedlander said.