For the love of the game: Guaranteed Impact winner Cormac Friedlander

Eight-year old Cormac Friedlander is like a lot of boys his age—full of energy and obsessed with soccer. So when his mother, Jennifer, noticed him on the sidelines during recess, she couldn’t help but wonder why.

Cormac, who was born with cerebral palsy, explained to her that he had trouble getting the ball and competing with his friends. While his mother’s first instinct was to encourage him to continue playing, she understood the challenges of a condition that can affect body movement and muscle coordination.

“It is sometimes easy to forget the limitations of his body and how that impacts his ability to participate in sports with more typically developing kids,” Jennifer explains.

Soon after that day, Cormac and Jennifer searched for a soccer team in the area for children with special needs. When they couldn’t find one, Cormac insisted on doing whatever it took to bring one to the city. A few months later, the Chicago Super Stars held its first practice. For leading this remarkable charge, Cormac has been selected as one of ten Guaranteed Impact winners.

What began with Cormac’s seemingly simple suggestion of starting a team picked up steam when he continued to push his mother throughout the winter until she too was ready to act.

“He lit a fire in me as well and together we decided to do it,” Jennifer recalls. “We talked to people, we researched, we networked and we ended up finding the US Youth Soccer Association, which has an outreach program called TOPSoccer, an adaptive soccer program for special needs children. We knew it was the right fit when we found it.”

From that point on, Cormac worked tirelessly to make the team a reality, from collaborating with a friend to come up with the team’s name and working with a designer on the team’s logo to finding a sponsor for the jerseys. In April, the team’s first practice was held and it was a success. Now, Cormac and his new teammates can gather regularly to do something they love—play soccer.

“I’m not even sure Cormac realizes what a difference he is making in the kids around him,” says Jennifer. “They are all just out there having fun, and really that is what it is all about. I get to sit back now and cheer him on with a big smile on my face.”

This season, Guaranteed Rate and the Chicago White Sox are teaming up to put heroic kids and teens in the spotlight. The Guaranteed Impact Program celebrates young people who are making a positive difference in their schools and communities. The program’s goal is to encourage and empower kids and teens who are working to improve the lives of those around them. Recipients will be treated to a well-deserved day at Guaranteed Rate Field for a White Sox home game in a suite with 15 friends and family.

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