First Special Olympic athlete inducted into Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame

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CHICAGO -- A trailblazing athlete joined the ranks of Tom Ricketts and Jonathan Toews when he was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame Monday, making him the first Special Olympics athlete to receive the honor.

Tommy Shimoda lives with Autism and a speech disorder. He excels in 21 out of 22 Special Olympic games, and last March, he became a gold medalist at the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria.  On Monday, the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame honored Shimoda's achievements by inducting him into their Hall of Fame.

A quiet boy from Mt. Greenwood, Chicago, Shimoda's speech disorder forces him to use a fancy "talker" device to communicate with his friends, family, and athletic coach Lisa Mulcrone. Mulcrone has been working with Shimoda to overcome his disabilities since he was six, but Shimoda has done much more than overcome a disability.

Tommy is recognized as a trailblazer among Special Olympic athletes. He has competed in nearly two dozen events, including horseback riding, water polo, and gymnastics. But speed skating took him to the 2017 World Winter Games. First, he won a bronze medal then he won gold in the 500 meter race.

Shimoda has countless medals hanging in his home, and his achievements follow him across his neighborhood as well. In the Mt. Greenwood park district, his friends from the Mt. Greenwood Special Ed program have planted flowers in Shimoda's honor. Last week, Shimoda met his sports idol, Chicago Blackhawk Jonathon Toews. Monday night, they were inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame together.

At the ceremony, Shimoda received another honor. He now has his own commemorative box of Wheaties cereal. This is an honor previously bestowed upon other sports greats such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, and Mary Lou Retton.