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Elite Special Athletes Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Philanthropy, Private Independent Foundations, Professional Athletic Leagues, Sports

Mission: STARS Athletics is proud to offer a unique program for individuals with special needs from 4 years of age and up. Specialized training designed especially for individuals with developmental and physical limitations. Designed by a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Personal Trainer and United States Association of Gymnastics Professional, UCA Cheer Professional and ISI/UFSA Skating Professional, the STARS program promises to develop athletes both physically and mentally while maximizing the fun! Recreational programs promise fun, fitness, socialization and a learning opportunity for families to gain an understanding of healthy lifestyles and the opportunities available to those individuals with special needs. The competitive programs are one-of-a-kind programs that offer elite coaching, great facilities and year-round training and competition opportunities to athletes with special needs. Athletes receive superior certified coaching support and have the opportunity to take part in the outstanding peer coach program, outings, clinics, camps, special events, trips and meets and competitions (locally & across the USA). STARS Athletics is home to several Special Olympic World Champions, numerous State and District Champions and many other titles in the sport of special needs gymnastics, cheerleading and figure skating. Superior and above the rest, the STARS are the elite for athletes with special needs. Founder Patty Hermann serves on the Special Olympic International Committee representing the USA in the sport of special needs gymnastics. The goal of the program is to train athletes in both USAG/UCA/ISI skills and Special Olympic routines; therefore, empowering all athletes to reach their highest possible potential both physically and mentally. Education, training, diet, nutrition, fitness, wellness and community involvement are all a part of this unique training program that works to develop athletes as a whole person. STARS Athletics is about more than just gymnastics, cheerleading, figure skating, and strength and power, it’s about getting more, doing more and being more.

Results: Our programs have grown to over 150 athletes this year. We have also added numerous volunteer peer coaches to assist with our programs. We have also added the new program of strength and power. We continue to strive for providing the best programs and opportunities for special needs athletes, that aren't readily available in their communities.

Target demographics: We help Special Needs athletes starting at age 4 and going well into their 20’s.

Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2003, with the help of her family and friends, Patty founded her own Foundation (ELITE STARS) and works actively to secure funding for over 150 special needs athletes and their peer coaches. Today, the Foundation – ELITE houses a USAG club sanctioned gymnastics team, ISI Figure Skating Team and UCA Competitive Cheer Team and Competitive Dance Team. Continuously raising the bar and creating opportunities for special individuals, Patty has made this her passion. Surrounded by her husband John, son Jake, mother Pat and brother Chris and his family, she has been able to create unique opportunities that enrich the lives of special athletes around the USA and has proudly defied the perception that special people cannot be highly trained competitive athletes. She works tirelessly to provide opportunities and life changing experiences to special needs athletes. Her programs grow every year. These programs create incredible opportunities for these special needs athletes.

Geographic areas served: Our Athletes come from 26 different suburbs in and around the Chicagoland area.

Programs: Unique athletic programs for individuals with special needs. We offer gymnastics, dance, figure skating, cheer and strength and power.

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been an athlete with the Elite Stars for 3 years now. She looks forward to her time there and never wants to miss a practice. Elite Stars families, Patty, and all the peer coaches really are an extension of our own family. This is so much more than an Athletic organization. There are yearly event happenings that everyone anticipates, like the annual swim party at the coaches house, the Christmas party that has everyone in the house dancing until the place is forced to shut us down. My daughter has many opportunities for growth with the Elite Stars, she travels with her team where she is taught independence and self reliance. The are so many facets to this program and I can't be more grateful that we are able to give my daughter this experience. I would highly recommend anyone that is raising a child with special needs to give Elite Stars a try. It's been said, once an Elite Star, always an Elite Star!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Patty Hermann and the entire Elite Stars staff continue to set the bar high for these challenged athletes and yet show compassion and caring while encouraging them to reach their goals. Our athletes grow as athletes and individuals, learning to be more independent adults along the way.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Patty Hermann's Elite Stars is an incredible organization. Our daughter Diana has been dancing competitively for 4 years now. Diana loves the competitions and talks about the Elite Stars summer camp every year. The Elite Stars coaches continually push the athletes to achieve then push again. My wife and I are shocked with what our daughter can do physically. We never imagined the balance and dexterity she has attained.
Elite Stars not only has competitive dance but gymnastics, ice skating and cheer leading. Diana has made many new friends with coaches and athletes. At the 5 day summer camp (NO Parents Allowed) athletes from all sports and coaches stay at a local hotel, working out every day, then doing various things in the evening, from concerts in the park, to visiting swim parks or special nights to restaurants. This year they went to a Chicago Bandits softball game at night and spent hours with the team during the day.
This organization has been wonderful for Diana. It has filled a void for Diana since graduating high school 8 years ago. She looks forward to her lessons, new routines, meeting new athletes and coaches and is constantly mapping out the competitions once they are announced. Diana keeps up her own calendar to remind us when it is time for class, competitions and especially camp.

We are extremely lucky to live where our daughter can participate with Elite Stars.
Sincerely,
John Filler & Jeanne Vivirto

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been in Elite Stars for two years. She absolutely loves it. The coaches and volunteers are wonderful. She learns what it is to be part of a team and work together. And work hard they do! She has learned good food choices, discipline and most of all self esteem. If you put your mind to it you can do anything.
This organization enables their strengths not their disabilities. We are lucky to have such organization.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am proud to be a fan of the Elite Stars! What a wonderful organization! My sister has been involved with dance and workout sessions! She lovessss it! I enjoy going to the dance competitions and supporting all of the athletes who have practiced so hard. :-) LET'S GO STARS!

Client Served

Rating: 4

Elite Stars is a fantastic! This is our first experience with Elite Stars and we were very pleased with the level of support, and commitment from the dance teachers. This is a great opportunity for your child to meet new friends and to enjoy competitive dance. It's so exciting to see the expression on your childs face when competing and engaging within this program.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 15 year old son has been an Elite Stars Gymnast in this program for 2 years. He absolutely loves it. The expectation levels are high and the athletes rise to meet the challenges set forth for them. It's a place where individuals with special needs can be appreciated and accepted. I highly recommend this program!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Elite Stars Organization is like no other! High expectations, opportunity, athleticism, competition, fun, fitness, enjoyment, acceptance, friendship and passion are just a few things that are gained by a special needs athlete participating in this extraordinary program. The highlight of the week for my 14 year old son who has Down syndrome is his Elite Stars gymnastics program!

Nate is always trying to keep up with his typically developing peers. This program allows him to shine and feel like a real superstar!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Elite stars special athletes expects of special needs athletics the same commitment, effort, progress, team attitude, striving for personal best, etc. That any athletic organization would expect of its athletes. As a parent of a teenager with Down Syndrome its an absolute pleasure to see this organization expect of my daughter what they would of "normal" athlete. The commitment and time invested by their volunteer coaches is absolutely amazing as well.

Julie182

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter with special needs started dancing with the Elite Stars last fall and it has been a wonderful experience ! We had been unable to find this kind of high acheiving dance team before. This has given her the chance to make new friends and be part of a great team! She loves going to dance and is always dancing around the house, she feels proud to be a part of the dance team!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Elite Stars is an amazing organization! Our daughter has participated in the Elite Stars Gymnastics and Cheerleading teams for the past 6 years and then also their Dance Team since it's inception 3 years ago. The Elite Stars is phenomenal and our daughter loves it! They provide exceptional and high caliber training for all the teams. The Elite Stars coaches set the bar high and challenge each and every kid to be the best that they can be. Our son is also a peer coach for the gymnastics team, for the past 2 years. Even though he has a sibling with a disability, peer coaching for the Elite Stars has been a learning experience and one that will help him tremendously in his future. We can't say enough about the Elite Stars teams and how they've helped our family in many ways.

Client Served

Rating: 4

My son loves participating in the gymnastics program. He enjoys the challenge of learning the different routines and equipment. He also likes spending time with the other athletes and coaches. I appreciate the energy and expectations of the coaches.

Sally42

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter is 30 years old and has been with Patty Hermann's programs for 20 years. It has improved her physically and taught her self-discipline. Patty keeps expanding the program with new opportunities. My daughter loves doing the aaaway exercise program. She feels good about herself and the program has taught her what good health is and how to maintain it. I can't tell you how proud I am when she gets out on the ice in a beautiful costume to do her skating routines. We have heard many positive comments from strangers at competitions about what our athletes have accomplished. This is the best program for children and young adults with special needs. It is also a good way to make new friends!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter began participating with Elite Stars this summer. She has Down Syndrome but unlike the stereotypical person with DS, she is very shy. Since she has been in the program, she has blossomed and come out of her shell. Her teachers at school keep telling us how different she is this year; outgoing and participating much more. She absolutely loves the peer coaches and her coaches. She is making friends; something she's never shown much interest in before. One of our goals with her is to treat her like we treat our other two "typical" children. The coaches and peer coaches set high expectations for the athletes and they rise to the occasion! We are looking forward to many years with Elite Stars.

Anna32

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am the sister of one of the young athletes that has been part of Elite for more than four years. In that time, she has grown into a confident and beaming young lady. This is thanks to the multifaceted approach of the Elite Stars program. The organization does not simply focus on training the body - it trains the mind as well. All staff members and coaches believe that one is not bound by their physical limitations. Participants can achieve strength, physical endurance, and flexibility while at the same time honing their socialization skills, learning how to work as part of a team in competitions, and shaping their problem-solving abilities. That is what being a true athlete is all about! Elite understands this when providing all-inclusive and fun athletic activities for our wonderful special needs family members.

Rick N.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My wife and I are the parents of two young adults wit Down Syndrome. Both of our children have been active participants in the Elite Special Athletes programs for many years. And when we say active, we mean active. Both of our children currently participate and compete with the Cheerleading team, the Dance team, and in Gymnastics. Coach Patty Hermann has created a unique program for children and young adults with disabilities which recognizes the potential in every individual, and the tremendous achievements that are possible if we both nurture and challenge our young people with disabilities. Our children look foward to every practice, every event, every competition, and every one of the tremendous parties that Elite sponsors. It is truly wonderful for our young people, some of whom when they started could barely walk a straight line and now are winning gold medals. The philosophy of Elite is that every individual should be allowed and encouraged to do their best, and this is especially evident in the various team competitions. Our young people compete righ along side other teams with much higher level of talent and ability, yet it is always, always the Elite Stars which recieve a standing ovation from the crowd.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has Smith-Magenis Syndrome and has participated in the Elite Stars programs for five years. She absolutely loves every minute of it and has grown so much both athletically and socially. Patty Hermann has developed outstanding programs in gymnastics, cheer, ice skating, and dance. The coaches and peer coaches are the best! She has had fantastic experiences traveling out-of-state with the team to National and World competitions. Thanks, Patty, for all you do for our athletes!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The athletes at Elite Stars have huge ability ranges, yet Patty and her wonderful volunteers are able to accurately evaluate each athlete's abilities and train them to achieve their highest potential. The athletes are never babied, but they are encouraged respectfully and with love. The programs have been developed to foster independence, hard work, and fun!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son just atarted to attend the program and he is so happy to be there. he gets up in the morning full of enthusiasm and energy and ready to roll. He already made some friends and can't wait to the next session. Thank you STARS and the TEAM.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter with Down Syndrome has been part of Elite Stars Special Athletes Program for years and has participated in the gymnastics, cheer, dance and ice skating programs at various times depending on her schedule. None of the other programs she has participated in compare to Elite. The high expectations of the Director Patty Hermann have raised the bar for these athletes and they strive to achieve and be the best they can be, usually far exceeding what most would think possible! The trained volunteer staff of peer coaches are so motivating and caring and encouraging and it is so rewarding to see the relationships that develop between the athletes and coaches. My daughter has grown so much over the years in not only her skills as an athlete but in her independence, compassion for others, self esteem, and motivation and desire to succeed in all that she does outside of the gym! She would not be where she is today without this fabulous Foundation.