Hurley Celebrates Special Olympics’ 50th Anniversary

Hurley Celebrates Special Olympics’ 50th Anniversary

Hurley Celebrates Special Olympics’ 50th Anniversary

With July marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of Special Olympics, state Rep. Fran Hurley, D-Chicago, a board member of Special Olympics Illinois, is highlighting the organization’s legacy and commitment to transforming the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.

“Special Olympics brings athletes of all ages and abilities together, promoting inclusion and improving lives through sports training and competition,” said Hurley. “As a board member, I’m extremely appreciative of the combined efforts of all involved with this program, particularly the volunteers and families that make this experience so special for our athletes.”

Hurley recently supported a bipartisan budget plan that includes funding for the operation of Special Olympics, in addition to funding generated from the sale of the Special Olympics Illinois scratch-off lottery ticket. She also introduced House Resolution 1002, recognizing the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, celebrating the accomplishments of Justice Anne Burke and congratulating all Special Olympic athletes, past and present, on their accomplishments.

Pictured: Hurley (right) with athletes at the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Soldier Field.

Pictured: Hurley (right) with athletes at the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Soldier Field.

More than 4,500 athletes participated in this year’s “Parade of Athletes” at Soldier Field, where the Special Olympics was first held in 1968. In commemoration of the organization’s 50th anniversary, many festivities are planned for the week of July 17 in Chicago, including an inaugural global football (soccer) tournament that will hold its final matches at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. A total of 24 international football/soccer teams will compete.



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Additionally, the Law Enforcement Torch Run will take place on July 20 along the lakefront, leading to the ceremonial lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope monument, which will be a permanent fixture at Soldier Field. Registration for the run is $75 and open to law enforcement, Special Olympics athletes and the public. Participants are able to sign up for the full four miles or just the last two. The structured run will conclude after entering Soldier Field as the Flame of Hope is delivered to the Eternal Flame Ceremony. The Flame of Hope symbolizes Special Olympics’ bright vision of advancing the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

On July 21, Special Olympics athletes, families, friends and supporters will kick off the next 50 years with a Global Day of Inclusion celebration at Soldier Field. The free, family-friendly festival will offer sports activities, interactive games, exhibits, food and live entertainment. Chance the Rapper will also headline a Special Olympics charity concert at Northerly Island, 1300 S. Lynn White Dr., featuring Usher, Smokey Robinson, Daya, Jason Mraz, O.A.R. and Francis and the Lights.

A full calendar of events is available at For more information on Special Olympics, or to get involved, please visit


Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

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