Born in Chicago - Special Olympics Chicago celebrates 46 years of building a community of acceptance and inclusion for all
Author and historian Howard Zinn said, "Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world." It is this idea—that a small act taken by one person, partnered with the support of others, can shape the face of the community—that has allowed Special Olympics Chicago to grow and thrive over the last 46 years.
It was the vision and action of the dedicated Anne M. Burke that, in 1968, helped to bring about the first international Special Olympics Games held at our own Soldier Field. After seeing the potential of those with special needs in her Chicago Park District program at West Pullman Park, Burke took the steps to create an event to showcase the ability of her athletes and the potential they carried with them.
46 years later, the Special Olympics organization continues to grow, with chapters in over 170 countries and more than 4,000,000 participating in events throughout the year. Here in Chicago there are 22 competitions enjoyed by 5,000 athletes. Supported by a partnership between Special Children's Charities, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Public Schools, Special Olympics Chicago has grown one step at a time, encouraged by a city that cared enough to act when the dream was just an idea back in 1968.
That's why Special Olympics Chicago is so grateful to the city that provided its foundation. From Wicker Park to Edgewater and the Loop, our city is full of small acts multiplied by the support of people like you. One could ask, "how does my spending an afternoon with an athlete, or volunteering for a competition help someone with special needs?" Consider that all of our athletes started with small acts; the act of joining a program, attending practice, working on their skills and taking the chance to be brave in their attempt to win. Imagine the encouragement they can draw from seeing the small act of support from members in their community, members just like you.
Special Olympics Chicago fulfills its mission of acknowledging, encouraging and developing those with special needs through competition because of the small acts of our volunteers, supporters and partners. It is why we spend every day working with our athletes to create something special. And it's why we continue to be grateful to those who choose to start something special one small act at a time.
To start something special today, visit www.sochicago.org for more information.
Chicago Loop Alliance is proud to have Special Olympics Chicago as a member organization. For more information about membership and its benefits, visit LoopChicago.com.