Southside Special Olympians receive laceless shoes

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An academy of athletes received a surprise in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics.

Special Olympians at Southside Occupational Academy were fitted and gifted with new unique kicks from a legendary Olympian.

A celebration in honor of more than a hundred Special Olympians at Southside Occupational Academy. Legendary Olympian Bob Beamon was on hand to donate shoes to all the athletes on hand.

"This is a great association and to be able to design something and give it away to all of the Special Olympians," said Olympian Bob Beamon.

Beamon is known for his world record in the long jump at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. Beamon is celebrating that achievement 50 years later in conjunction with the Special Olympics Anniversary as a long time ambassador.

"I feel fortunate to be global ambassador, it's an honor. On top of that to celebrate my 50 years of holding the oldest Olympic record in the books, it goes together like a horse and carriage and I love it," said Beamon.

Beamon has partnered with former duathlete George Pierce to giveaway the specially designed laceless gym shoes to help athletes take their talents to new heights.

"We are going to come in fit everyone properly and give them the best shoe that's ever been made for these guys so they don't have to tie laces," said George Pierce, a duathlete and the owner of Pierce Footwear.

Students and staff are excited about the new shoes and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics.

"I've taken my shoes off at an event for a girl to wear who didn't have gym shoes to wear. It's just so amazing and generous it's awesome," said Southside Occupational Academy Teacher Melissa Garritano.

"Seeing a lot of special needs kids doing more activities for Special Olympics. I want them to have fun, I have fun every time. I want those kids to have more fun than me," said Special Olympian Ladasha Thomas.

Ten of the Special Olympians that received shoes will get to break them in this weekend and dance on stage during the Celebration Concert produced by Chance the Rapper.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.