Monument to celebrate Special Olympics at site of 1st event

CHICAGO (AP) — A new monument near Chicago’s Soldier Field will celebrate the Special Olympics and the site where its first event was held 50 years ago.

The Special Olympics is the largest sports organization in the world for people with intellectual disabilities. The first event was held in Chicago in 1968. Today, 5 million athletes from 172 countries participate.

Officials from the Special Olympics and the Chicago Park District will join other dignitaries at a Friday groundbreaking in Chicago for a 30-foot monument known as the Eternal Flame of Hope.

Among those attending Friday’s event are Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, who as a park district employee helped start the Special Olympics. Athletes who participated in the first games also will attend.

Chicago will also host athletes for a 50th anniversary celebration this summer.