Eternal Flame of Hope.

Special Olympics officials joined the Chicago Park District at a groundbreaking ceremony held for the Eternal Flame of Hope – a permanent, 30-foot monument for Special Olympics at Soldier Field, the site of the first games 50 years ago. The Eternal Flame of Hope will be located on Soldier Field’s North Lawn, off of McFetridge Drive.

City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly, Special Olympics International CEO Mary Davis, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke and four Special Olympics athletes who participated in the first games in 1968 attended this afternoon’s ceremony to celebrate the monument as a symbol of inclusion.

“The Eternal Flame of Hope not only celebrates Chicago as the birthplace of the Special Olympics, it is a testament to the depth and talent of athletes who compete at the highest level every year,” Mayor Emanuel said. “The Special Olympics will always have a home in Chicago, and we are proud to support the participating athletes who showcase to the world what it means to be an Olympian.”

On July 20, 1968, nearly 1,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 26 states and Canada came together at Soldier Field for the first ever International Special Olympics Games. The event was a significant moment in a worldwide civil-rights movement for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

50th Anniversary Celebrations

This summer, July 17-21, Chicago will again host athletes from around the world for a 50th anniversary celebration. On July 20, law enforcement officers from across the region will run alongside Special Olympics athletes in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. This 4-mile run will take place on the lakefront bike path and will conclude with the lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope.

“The Eternal Flame of Hope will provide great joy and pride to all who visit and reflect on the past, present and future of Special Olympics,” Special Olympics Chicago President Kevin Magnuson said. “We are extremely grateful to the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago for supporting this spectacular project celebrating Special Olympics 50th Anniversary in the exact place where it all began on July 20, 1968.”

Today, Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement that reaches 5 million athletes in 172 countries using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to empower people with intellectual disabilities.

More information about this can be found from Special Olympics page –