SPECIAL OLYMPICS CHICAGO

Special Olympics Chicago is largest region in the state of Illinois and larger than 26 other state Chapters in the U.S. offering training and competition in 22 sports. Athletes learn fundamentals, rules and strategies from their coaches during a training period prior to competition. Competitions are held at the area, regional and state levels.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest program for sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, inspiring greatness in more than 5 million athletes in 172 nations worldwide. Because of Special Olympics, the world has witnessed the courage, character, dedication, dignity and worth of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Circle photo 9

MISSION STATEMENT

The Special Olympics mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

BORN IN CHICAGO

The first International Special Olympics Games were held on July 20, 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Since then, Special Olympics Chicago has grown to serve more than 7,500 athletes, offering year-round sports training and competition in 22 sports.

The summer of 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, an organization with deep Chicago roots that is now the largest sporting competition in the world for intellectually disabled children and adults. What began as an idea for a simple track-and-field event at Soldier Field branched into a global community serving 5 million athletes in 172 countries.

The rise of Special Olympics during the last 50 years represented more than a popular sporting event. It marked the beginning of a shift in humanity. Disabled children and adults, often abandoned, institutionalized and isolated, joined mainstream society. They were seen. They were celebrated. Countries that once confined the disabled to prisonlike conditions have now embraced and even hosted the games.

That worldwide culture change launched, slowly, with a partnership that included Eunice Kennedy Shriver of the Kennedy family foundation, now-Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Chicago Park District.

Burke, who was teaching physical education classes to disabled children at the Park District, wanted to reach more students. She saw how recreation programs changed them, challenged them, encouraged them. She approached city officials with the idea of a citywide track meet.

A natural partner, the Kennedy family with Shriver leading the way had championed the needs of the disabled community. President John F. Kennedy had prioritized care for the disabled with federal funding and numerous acts of Congress to expand opportunities for this population. With the resources and enthusiasm of Mayor Daley, the Kennedys, Burke and the Park District, the first Special Olympics unfolded at Soldier Field in July 1968. Athletes from 26 states and Canada participated in the 50-yard dash, 300-yard run, field hockey, swimming and jumping.

Special Children’s Charities was created in 1969 as the fundraising arm of Special Olympics Chicago. Created by Jack McHugh, Special Children’s Charities’ primary mission is to promote, foster and encourage physical and mental health improvement for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and closely related developmental disabilities. In cooperation with the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public School and Special Olympics Illinois, Special Children’s Charities is committed to providing funding for year-round sports training, recreational and social programs for the children and adults of Special Olympics Chicago.

 

(Sourced from the Chicago Tribune)

BORN IN CHICAGO

The first International Special Olympics Games were held on July 20, 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Since then, Special Olympics Chicago has grown to serve more than 7,500 athletes, offering year-round sports training and competition in 22 sports.

The summer of 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, an organization with deep Chicago roots that is now the largest sporting competition in the world for intellectually disabled children and adults. What began as an idea for a simple track-and-field event at Soldier Field branched into a global community serving 5 million athletes in 172 countries.

The rise of Special Olympics during the last 50 years represented more than a popular sporting event. It marked the beginning of a shift in humanity. Disabled children and adults, often abandoned, institutionalized and isolated, joined mainstream society. They were seen. They were celebrated. Countries that once confined the disabled to prisonlike conditions have now embraced and even hosted the games.

That worldwide culture change launched, slowly, with a partnership that included Eunice Kennedy Shriver of the Kennedy family foundation, now-Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Chicago Park District.

Burke, who was teaching physical education classes to disabled children at the Park District, wanted to reach more students. She saw how recreation programs changed them, challenged them, encouraged them. She approached city officials with the idea of a citywide track meet.

A natural partner, the Kennedy family with Shriver leading the way had championed the needs of the disabled community. President John F. Kennedy had prioritized care for the disabled with federal funding and numerous acts of Congress to expand opportunities for this population. With the resources and enthusiasm of Mayor Daley, the Kennedys, Burke and the Park District, the first Special Olympics unfolded at Soldier Field in July 1968. Athletes from 26 states and Canada participated in the 50-yard dash, 300-yard run, field hockey, swimming and jumping.

Special Children’s Charities was created in 1969 as the fundraising arm of Special Olympics Chicago. Created by Jack McHugh, Special Children’s Charities’ primary mission is to promote, foster and encourage physical and mental health improvement for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and closely related developmental disabilities. In cooperation with the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public School and Special Olympics Illinois, Special Children’s Charities is committed to providing funding for year-round sports training, recreational and social programs for the children and adults of Special Olympics Chicago.

LEADERSHIP / BOARD

Board Member Support

We are grateful to our board members for their ongoing support as we work to build a community of inclusion and acceptance for all. Additionally, we extend a sincere thanks to our Associate Board for their enthusiasm and friendship show to our talented athletes.

ABOUT OUR PARTNERS

The Chicago Park District -- Office of Special Olympics / Special Olympics Chicago partnered with the Chicago Park District since the first International Special Olympics Games in 1968. Chicago Park District Special Olympics programming is in 24 park locations throughout the city of Chicago.

A SPECIAL THANKS TO