Special Olympics Celebrates 50 Years of Inclusion
The first Special Olympic Games took place in 1968 at Chicago's Soldier Field. Fifty years later, more than five million Special Olympics athletes train and compete in 172 countries every day. What began as a summer camp for children with intellectual disabilities in Eunice Kennedy Shriver's back yard has grown into a global movement for inclusion.
The week-long celebration in Chicago included the Special Olympics Unified Cup presented by TOYOTA, the Law Enforcement Torch Run, the Global Day of Inclusion, a star-studded concert, and the Light Up for Inclusion campaign where major landmarks and iconic buildings around the world turned red in a global display of unity.
The Eternal Flame of Hope monument at Soldier Field is now lit and features a landscaped plaza and donor recognition wall, along with the spectacular sculpture and eternal flame. Anne Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice and Special Olympics visionary, says that, "This monument and eternal flame will serve as a reminder to visitors from all over the world of those first Games and serve as a beacon symbolizing the potential of every individual for greatness."
Representatives of Vermont's Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Bruce and Virginia Merriam and Raysa Ortega, traveled to Chicago to take part in the 50th anniversary celebration and the lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope. As a tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver's vision and the Inclusion Revolution, the flame will continue to burn indefinitely.