50th Anniversary
Since our inaugural event on 20 July, 1968, Special Olympics has grown to include more than 5 million Special Olympics athletes across 172 countries. In 2018, we celebrated the first 50 years of our movement with an eye on the future as we continue to build a more inclusive world for all.
Celebrating in Style
From July 17-21, 2018, Special Olympics returned to Chicago, home of the inaugural games in 1968 to celebrate 50 years of its global efforts to change perceptions and build a more inclusive world. The week long celebration included the lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope, a fierce competition on the football pitch, and landmarks around the world lighting up red to raise awareness
In ancient Rome, the gladiators went into the arena with these words on their lips: let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt. Today, all of you young athletes are in the arena. Many of you will win. But even more important, I know you will be brave and bring credit to your parents and to your country.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 1968 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony