50th Anniversary Stories

50 Years of Stories: Special Olympics 50th Anniversary


It’s been quite a year for Special Olympics Illinois! As we reflect on all the fun the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration brought to Chicago, we’re reminded of all those who have paved the way for inclusion. Here are their stories.


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What a Year!


It’s been quite a year for Special Olympics! As we come to close of 2018, we reflect on all the fun the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration brought to Chicago. #ChoosetoInclude

The Revolution is Inclusion- both on & off the Playing Field


National recording artist, Allen Stone performed during the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Opening Ceremonies, in Seattle Washington. There he put on an unbelievable performance for the athletes of Special Olympics. The opening ceremonies kicked off the week of competition for the Special Olympics athletes competing at USA Games.

Saneatha Trice, a gymnast, began competing in Special Olympics in her home state of Illinois in 8th grade. Saneatha competed in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington. Gymnastics is a passion for Saneatha’s. She has competed all over the country and revels in the opportunity to meet new people and compete with athletes from across the globe.

After the performance, Stone invited the athletes of Special Olympics to join him at one of his tour dates across the country complete with meet n’ greet passes.

Saneatha attended one of Allen Stone’s concerts. The experience was nothing short of an inclusive experience for Saneatha and her family. When they arrived Saneatha and her family was guided to a line for a special meet n’ greet with Allen. There she reminisced with other Special Olympics athletes who also competed at the 2018 USA Games. 

After the meet n’ greet Saneatha and fellow athletes made their way closer to the stage, where they found themselves welcomed by everyone around them. The group spent the entire concert together dancing and having a great time.

The program has given Saneatha so much more than an athletic ability to compete on a national level. Special Olympics has given her the opportunity to form relationships on all levels of her life. She has gained the courage to try new things and open herself up to new experiences and opportunities.

When faced with situations that may require some of that courage she has garnered from years of competing, Trice said, “I have learned to tell myself, ‘I can do this,’ instead of, ‘I can’t.” Saneatha says, “Now I love to try new things!”

For 50 years, Special Olympics has been building a movement to break down barriers – on and off the field. Allen Stone, national recording artist, and Saneatha Trice, Special Olympics Illinois athlete, display inclusion, passion, and courage in all aspects of their lives.


Clif Bar Teams Up With Special Olympics


Clif Bar & Company is a proud new supporter of Special Olympics, beginning with its 50th Anniversary event held in Chicago in July 2018. The event brought together 300 athletes from around the world for the first-ever Unified Cup — 16 male and eight female soccer teams comprised of young adults with and without intellectual disabilities. Not separate teams, but inclusive ones. Athletes with disabilities played alongside those without. All bound by their love of sport, playing the world’s most popular sport in front of thousands of spectators and culminating in nationally televised finals matches on ESPN2.

“We believe sports can be a powerful force for social good,” said Thao Pham, Vice President of Community at Clif Bar. “Sports can transform lives — those of the athletes themselves and those of the others they impact. People who are intellectually disabled shouldn’t be excluded from that. We live in a time where fostering inclusivity is more important than ever.”