By Hilary Anderson – August 23, 2018
The Wilmette Beacon
Singing the national anthem is no small feat.
Wilmette’s Stefan Xidas has done it many times but now wants to sing it at a Chicago Cubs baseball game.
The challenge is how to send his request to sing the national anthem at an upcoming Cubs game so that it goes directly to owner Tom Ricketts, a fellow resident of Wilmette, and does not get stopped along the way.
The reason he wants to sing it is twofold.
One is that the Chicago Cubs are his favorite baseball team.
The second is that Xidas, who was born with Down syndrome, wants to bring awareness to the public that his disability does not stop him, or anyone else with it, from doing activities that some think might be impossible to achieve.
“I have always liked music,” Xidas said. “I used to play the piano.”
“Patti Lupo, a voice teacher who once lived next to the Xidas family, realized that Xidas had a gift for singing and first gave him voice lessons when he was about six or seven years old,” said Kim Xidas, Stefan’s mother. “Lupo would take him to Wilmette’s Roemer Park where Little League games were played and have Stefan sing the national anthem with her. Soon she realized he could sing it by himself, which he did for about five years.”
In 2005, Kim Xidas was working with the National Association of Down Syndrome on a public awareness campaign. It was the same time period when the Chicago White Sox were the No. 1 team in the American League and eventually won the World Series.
“The White Sox team was hosting an Awareness Day to bring attention to Down syndrome at one of their games,” Kim Xidas said. “They called for audition tapes from those interested in singing the national anthem. Stefan sent in his tape and won the opportunity to sing it at the White Sox game.”
“Singing at the White Sox game was really nice but I want to sing at a Chicago Cubs game,” said Stefan Xidas. “The Chicago Cubs are my favorite team.”
Stefan Xidas tried every conceivable way to get his request to Tom Ricketts but so far with no success.
He and his longtime friend, Tom Molitor, came up with an idea. They have been friends since kindergarten days at McKenzie School, all the way through graduation from New Trier High School and beyond.
“They devised a way to raise money for Special Olympics,” Kim Xidas said. “Stefan is very involved in Special Olympics and an avid tennis player. He has played for Special Olympics for about 10 years practicing at the A.C. Nielsen Tennis center in Winnetka and coached by Pat Fragassi. He works privately with Pat Sullivan to prepare.”
Xidas and Molitor set up a GoFundMe to benefit Special Olympics with a $5,000 goal.
Molitor took a video of Stefan Xidas writing a letter to Tom Ricketts. A still shot of it is on the GoFundMe page. They also went to a Cubs game where they took more video footage.
“I am offering Tom Ricketts a challenge,” Stefan Xidas said. “I wrote if I am able to raise $5,000 for Special Olympics, then Tom Ricketts, will you please allow me to sing the National Anthem at a Cubs game? If he does not answer me, at least the money will go to a worthy cause.”
At press time, Xidas has raised $4,000 of the $5,000 goal in two days.
Stefan Xidas said he also is open to singing the national anthem at Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks or Chicago Bulls basketball games.
He attributes his musical talents to his father, Stan Xidas, who professionally wrote jingles for commercials.
In the meantime, Xidas spends time listening to country and western music and writing songs when he can.
To donate to Stefan Xidas’s GoFundMe page, go to https://www.gofundme.com/my-letter-to-tom-ricketts. A link to Tom Molitor’s video of Stefan at the Cubs game and writing the letter can be found there.