Photo by Tayhlor Sims
Alton High School junior Matt Maag, 17, is trying to complete a Polar Plunge at Carlyle Lake fund-raising event on Feb. 22 for Special Olympics.
ALTON – Matt Maag, an Alton High junior, exemplifies what Special Olympics’ competition is about.
Maag, 17, is a multi-state medal winner in a variety of sports, including bowling, swimming and track and field. He also is a member of the AHS Special Olympics basketball squad, which recently advanced to the regional championship game.
The Alton youth next is attempting to complete a Polar Plunge at Carlyle Lake fund-raising event on Feb. 22 for Special Olympics, needing $500 to finish his quest.
“I think Special Olympics is very important,” the soft-spoken Maag said. “It helps me make friends and it keeps me positive. I have received a lot from it.”
Lisa Maag, Matt’s mother, said she thinks her son has learned a lot from participating in Special Olympics and hopes he will make his fund-raising goal for the Polar Plunge.
“It has really boosted his self-esteem,” she said. “Special Olympics helped his personality come out and blossom.”
Soon, Matt will be inducted into the AHS Honor Society. He is also a percussionist on the AHS Marching 100 and thrives on woodworking, drawing and painting. He hopes in the future to find his niche in one of those art forms and enjoys working with his hands, his mother said.
Those wishing to contribute to his fund-raiser can go to www.firstgiving.com and search for Matt Maag. Matt's father, Gregory Maag, who works with the Mid America Audiology Group, will soon be publishing his Polar Plunge attempt on the sign in front of the business on Washington and Brown in Alton. The deadline of Feb. 22 is rapidly approaching to assist him.
Checks can also be made payable to “Special Olympics Illinois” and mailed to Mid America Audiology Group, 1417 Washington Ave., Suite 2, Alton, IL 62002, or attention Polar Plunge to Special Olympics Illinois, 605 E. Willow St., Normal, IL 61761.
Matt’s goal is to not only raise the funds to assist Special Olympics, but encourage students everywhere to participate in the different sports with him.
“I am trying to talk others into joining me in the Polar Plunge,” he said.
Matt Maag is trained as a global messenger for Special Olympics and his mother said he would be glad to speak and visit area clubs or organizations. The next quest for Matt will be to try to raise funds for uniforms and sweatsuits for the AHS Special Olympics teams.
Matt is a team player and his mother said if he spots others around him not doing their best he will encourage them to get in line.
Tammy Talbert, who coaches Matt at AHS, said she was amazed at his dedication and that he literally does anything she asks of him in practice and in competitions.
“Matt is involved in all the activities that we do,” Talbert said. “He really works hard at all the practices we do at all the activities motivating the other kids and pushing them along.”
Mothers always love their sons or daughters, but it is hard to grasp how proud Lisa Maag is of her son, Matt, and his accomplishments both in athletics, but in the classroom.
Mostly, she is proud of the person Matt has become.
“Matt is the kindest, most positive person I know,” she said. “Everybody loves him.”