Families, volunteers and spectators will be cheering on men and women, boys and girls — all Special Olympics athletes — set to compete in the largest region event of the year for Special Olympics Illinois Region A.
The annual Spring Games is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Hall High School, 800 W. Erie St. The event is open to the public.
At the Region A Spring Games, more than 200 athletes are expected to compete in athletics (track and field), the most popular of 18 sports offered by Special Olympics Illinois.
The event begins with Opening Ceremonies. The running of the torch with the “Flame of Hope” and the lighting of the cauldron signifies the opening of the games.
Competition follows immediately and will conclude around 1 p.m. All athletes will march in the parade of athletes and recite the Special Olympics oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Athletes will compete in the 50-, 100-, 200-, 400-, 800-, 1,500; standing and running long jumps; shot put; tennis and softball throw; 100-, 400- and 800-meter walk races; wheelchair competitions and assisted races.
Athletes compete in divisions based on their abilities.
To compete in the Special Olympics Illinois Region A Spring Games, athletes must train for eight weeks. Athletes who win a gold medal qualify to compete in the Special Olympics Illinois State Summer Games scheduled June 15 to 17 on the campuses of Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University.
More than 4,000 athletes from around the state are expected to compete in the Summer Games.
Special Olympics rooted in Chicago
The spark that became today’s Special Olympics movement ignited at the first 1968 International Summer Games at Soldier Field. This July, Special Olympics will celebrate 50 years of joy, courage and empowerment in Chicago. Special Olympics International, Special Olympics Illinois and Special Children’s Charities in Chicago are uniting to host nearly a week of events to celebrate the first 50 years of Special Olympics and to launch the movement into the future.