Special Olympics, founded in Illinois Sesquicentennial, will be celebrated with monument

The first International Summer Games festival held by the Special Olympics movement for challenged athletes was celebrated in Chicago in 1968. Nearly 1,000 athletes, from twenty-six U.S. states, participated in these first Games. Over the past 50 years, the movement has radiated outwards from the South Side’s Soldier Field and now encompasses organizers in 172 countries and territories around the world. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which rarely grants out the use of its intellectual property to any other body, allows the Special Olympics to share the Olympic name and torch symbol.

The Special Olympics were founded in Illinois’ sesquicentennial year of 1968. On Friday, March 2, Special Olympics officials joined fundraisers and well-wishers for the groundbreaking ceremony of the “Eternal Flame of Hope.” The 30-foot sculptural installation, to be located on the lakefront at Chicago’s Soldier Field, will celebrate the heritage of these Games and point towards further Special Olympics growth over the next half-century.

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