Earlier in the day, Shimoda was invited to the Chicago Blackhawks' practice by fellow nominee Jonathan Toews. The Hall of Famers met and posed for pictures at the United Center. Other inductees included Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, Cubs' pitcher Kerry Wood and White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson.
Shimoda, 24, won the gold medal in the 500-meter race at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. He also went on to win a bronze medal in March in the 777-meter event. He was the only Chicago athlete participating in the international games.
And in July, he added a 2017 ESPY Award to his trophy case. Shimoda was one of 25 athletes who were honored alongside the founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the televised sports awards show.
Shimoda trains all year round, including skating regularly at the Morgan Park Sports Center. He has participated in the Mount Greenwood Special Recreation Association since he was 8 years old. The group is based out of the Mount Greenwood Park at 3721 W. 111th St.
His next goal is to compete in gymnastics in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Diagnosed with autism, Shimoda is non-verbal and speaks with the aid of a handheld computer.
At the ceremony Monday, Kevin Magnuson, the president of Special Olympics Chicago, read a letter from General Mills upon presenting Shimoda with his Wheaties Cereal box.
"Tommy, you are an extraordinary athlete, displaying sportsmanship on and off the field while helping kids with special needs and inspiring us all," the letter said. "We can’t wait to see what you do next. Keep on being a champion and an inspiration."
For more information on the Special Olympics program, please visit www.sochicago.org.
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