Torch lit for Special Olympics Opening Ceremony at Soldier Field

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Friday, May 3, 2024
Torch lit for Special Olympics Opening Ceremony in Chicago
Thousands of Chicago Special Olympics athletes proudly marched onto Soldier Field on Friday morning ahead of next week's spring games.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A little rain did not put a damper on this jubilant and joyful parade.

Thousands of Chicago Special Olympics athletes proudly marched onto Soldier Field on Friday morning ahead of next week's spring games.

"We'll have thousands of athletes next week coming from 124 different schools, 20 different parks at Dunbar Stadium," said Ray Baker with Special Olympics Chicago.

Special Olympics programs from scores of Chicago Public Schools and different city parks took to the field, cheered on by an endless line of volunteers along with fan-packed stands.

"We serve the children of the city, so to see them here so happy, it's a wonderful feeling," said Nancy Zawayta with Chicago Public Schools.

This celebration is one the athletes will never forget.

"It's amazing to see how excited and happy they are to be here and to celebrate their hard work," said Gabrielle Brown with Chicago Public Schools.

ABC7 caught up with an athlete from Carnegie Elementary.

"I was like, 'OK, everyone's trying to hype me up and everything. I'm ready, I'm ready,'" X'xavier Miller said.

And for the coaches helping these hard-working students achieve greatness, it's the athletes' smiles that makes all the practice worth it.

"It means everything to us. They've been working really hard this year to prepare for this. They want good medals. They want to go down state," said King College Prep coach Esha Bailey.

The torch is now officially lit, marking the opening of the games.