Chicago, Illinois is a highly inclusive city, continually ranking in the top ten for accessible living and recognized by organizations such as the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Boots ‘N All travel guide for the ease of access to its facilities, recreation, and accessibility involvement. As such, several organizations within Chicago, specifically the Chicago Park District and the McCormick Place convention center, stand as exemplary models for driving an accessible concept for the city of Chicago and the rest of the nation.

McCormick Place

With 2.6 million square feet of floor space covering four buildings, four theaters, and 173 rooms, the McCormick Place in downtown Chicago is the nation’s largest convention center. Incidentally, the building is as accessible as it is large; the McCormick Place provides its disabled patrons with assistive listening receivers and transmitters, wheelchair and oxygen rentals, and no less than nine wheelchair lifts for accessing buildings and stages for award ceremonies, keynote speeches, and other convention necessities. It is this attention to universal design and accessibility that makes the McCormick Place an ideal location to host events for organizations, such as the Chicago Park District.

Chicago Park District

In 2011, the Chicago Park District instituted an accessibility improvements plan and began supplying many of their locations with elevators and wheelchair lifts for accessing public facilities and amenities, such as swimming pools and stages. Following further accessible renovations in 2014, now retired Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director, Mark Miller, stated in a Park District investment announcement, “Maintaining our urban green spaces and related facilities is an important part of our mission to provide recreation that is safe and accessible to all.” As an example of that continuing dedication, the Park District operates year-round programs designed for community support and inclusion. One such inclusive event is the annual Valor Games Midwest, which will be held, in part, at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center.

Valor Games Midwest

This year will mark the sixth annual Valor Games Midwest, an introductory level adaptive athletics competition open to injured and ill U.S. Military veterans and active duty service members from twelve states. Contestants take part in adaptive archery, powerlifting, cycling, rowing, and discus, with events scattered across different parks throughout Chicago and culminating in a ceremony at the McCormick Place. Retired Sergeant Noah Galloway, the keynote speaker for the third annual Valor Games Midwest opening ceremony, told the Chicago Tribune, “The Valor Games Midwest is an inspiration to continue my active lifestyle and continue to test my physical and mental limits.”

Additional Information

To speak with a representative for information about wheelchair lifts and how they may help you, contact Ascension. For more information regarding accessibility policy of the McCormick Place or the Chicago Park District, please see their respective websites. The Valor Games Midwest is joined by affiliate regional competitions the Valor Games Southwest, Far West, and Southeast. For more information regarding the Valor Games regional in your area, please visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Valor Games website.