New exhibit celebrates 50th anniversary of Special Olympics

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A brand new exhibit at the Chicago History Museum honors 50 years of the Special Olympics. (WLS)

A brand new exhibit at the Chicago History Museum honors 50 years of the Special Olympics. Memorabilia from past games is now on display at the museum and it's a source of inspiration for Special Olympians.

Shawn Logan, 30, of Lawndale has played basketball in the athletic event several times, but says the sport is not the only reason he enjoys it.

"You meet new friends and you get to build relationships with Special Olympians," Shawn Logan said.

Allison Berggren competes in a number of different sports, but recently became the statewide champion of the standing long jump and earned the gold medal.

"I enjoy doing it for Chicago and other events for Illinois," said Allison Berggren.

Cheering them on will be their coach, Nikolai Torres. He's gotten to know the athletes through programs at the Chicago Park District.

"I really love doing this because there's passion all around and it's something that they really enjoy doing. It's the purest emotion you can really feel," said Coach Nikolai Torres.

It's that feeling that still inspires Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke. She launched the Special Olympics 50 years ago when she was working for the Chicago Park District. She reached out to members of the Kennedy family.

"I wrote to Mrs. Shriver and said we need some money. She absolutely agreed," said Justice Burke, who helped create the Special Olympics.

Now, there are nearly 5 million Special Olympians worldwide who compete in a variety of events.

"Even if they don't win, they try. Of course, the Olympic oath: 'If i cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,'" Burke said.

The official celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics takes place next month with a week of high level sports competitions, and it ends with a star-studded concert produced by Chance the Rapper.

The Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will air live on ABC 7 on July 1 starting at 2:30 p.m.
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sportsspecial olympicschicago proudhistoryOld TownChicago
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