SIU's Touch of Nature to Honor Rep. Cavaletto with House Dedication Oct. 12 -

In conjunction with the annual Buffalo Tro event, Southern Illinois University's Touch of Nature Environmental Center will be honoring State Rep. John Cavaletto by re-naming one of its buildings for Cavaletto on Friday, October 12, 2018. The house renaming is in recognition for his support of Touch of Nature, Camp Little Giant and the Special Olympics.

Cavaletto attended summer camp at Little Grassy and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at SIU. He worked with William Freeberg, the Kennedy Foundation and Eunice Kennedy Shriver to establish camps for children and young adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. The camps, directed by Cavaletto, led to creation of the Special Olympics.

He and his wife Connie worked at Camp Little Giant and helped train students throughout the state to work with children and adults with Down syndrome and other physical or mental disabilities during the 1950s and 1960s. During his legislative career, which is concluding this year, he’s also been a supporter.

The day’s festivities kick off at 10:30 a.m. with the dedication and renaming of the student intern house, commonly known as the “the Red House,” to the Cavaletto House. Lunch will follow in the Friends Room.

The Buffalo Tro evening includes a reception at 5 p.m., featuring light appetizers and local beers and wines. Bidding on a wide variety of silent auction items is from 5 to 7 p.m. with the meal served at 6:30 p.m. The live auction will follow.

The Buffalo Tro features marinated beef steaks, cooked on very hot stacked hardwood, then “klinked” to remove the coals. It’s served with baked potato, dinner salad, hot rolls and dessert.

The cooking method is a variation of the Plains Indian ceremonial meal where bison meat was cooked directly on hot buffalo chips to sear in the juices and flavor. Vegetarian and special diet options will be offered as well.

All activities on Oct. 12 are open to the public. There is no cost to attend either of the dedication events but guests are asked to RSVP at or by calling 618/453-1121.

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