Celebrating 50 Years of Unity and Empowerment

July 5, 2018 Events, Press

The spark that became today’s Special Olympics movement was ignited at the first 1968 International Summer Games in Chicago, Illinois. Five decades later, Special Olympics is returning to Chicago to launch the year-long global Special Olympics 50th Anniversary celebrations this July. Starting July 17 and ending July 21, the first day of our next 50 years, there are activities planned that are fun for the whole family. Join us as we play together, learn from each other, and chart an inspiring course for the future!

A complete events schedule can be found here.

Special Olympics Unified Cup presented by Toyota

From July 17-20, the Special Olympics Unified Cup presented by Toyota will feature 24 female and male Unified teams comprised of players with and without intellectual disabilities. Representing every region of the world, they will play in this inaugural global football (soccer) invitational tournament to show the world that when we play unified, we live unified. Preliminary matches will take place July 17-19 starting at 8AM CT and final matches will be held on July 20 beginning at 5PM CT.

The event is FREE and you can get your tickets here!

Sign up to volunteer here!

Law Enforcement Torch Run Commemorative Run


On July 20 at 11AM CT, a ceremonial Law Enforcement Torch Run will feature hundreds of law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes from throughout Chicago, Illinois, and the world. This 4-mile run starts on the lakefront bike path and will conclude with the lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope at Soldier Field.

Register for the race here!

Sign up to volunteer here!

Eternal Flame of Hope

Following the Torch Run on July 20 at 12PM CT, a new permanent, 30-foot monument for Special Olympics at Soldier Field, the site of the first games 50 years ago, will be lit at a dedication ceremony. The monument will feature a landscaped plaza and donor recognition wall, as well as spectacular sculpture and eternal flame, symbolizing the eternal hope that Special Olympics provides to athletes and their families, and in turn, the eternal hope that Special Olympics athletes provide to the world. World-renowned artist, Richard Hunt, is the designer of the sculpture.

The event is FREE! Get your name on the flame here!

Sign up to volunteer here!

Global Day of Inclusion

To mark the amazing milestone of the 50th Anniversary and to kick off the next 50 years, Special Olympics will harness the reach and power of our five million athletes in 170 countries, along with their families, friends & supporters, to send a clear and compelling message to the world: “Join us for a Global Day of Inclusion.” The birthplace of Special Olympics, Chicago’s Soldier Field, will host a massive celebration on July 21 from 1PM-7PM CT. This Inclusion Revolution that will serve as the spark for people around the world to commit to making their cities more inclusive. This family friendly festival will offer sports activities, interactive games, exhibits, killer food offerings, and live entertainment.

The event is FREE! Register here for event updates!

Sign up to volunteer here!

50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

50th Full Final

To conclude the fun filled week of activities, a concert will be held at Northerly Island on July 21 at 5:40PM CT. The lineup includes Chance the Rapper, Usher, Francis & The Lights, Daya, Smokey Robinson, Jason Mraz, and O.A.R., making it a night you don’t want to miss! Dedicated to empowerment and inclusion, the concert will inspire an #InclusionRevolution.

Get your tickets here!

Additional events for Special Olympics Athletes include Performance Stations and Healthy Athletes. The Performance Stations ensure athletes perform at their best throughout the tournament by providing support in competition readiness (equipment and attire), nutrition, hydration, and physical activity to athletes.  Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® will provide free health screening to athletes in a fun, welcoming environment that removes the anxiety people with intellectual disabilities often experience when faced with a visit to a medical professional.

Help keep the Movement alive for another 50 years by making a donation here.

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