50 for 50th Stories

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 & 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.”


Healthy Athletes Cooking Demonstration


On July 16th, 2018 Special Olympics Illinois hosted the first-ever Healthy Athletes Cooking Demonstration. Collaborating with Entercom’s Culinary Kitchen, Steak 48 Executive Chef Brian Key, and Private Chef El Mehdi Fatat to prepare delicious dishes with Special Olympics Illinois athletes.

With Healthy Athletes, Special Olympics has become the largest public health organization specifically for people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics Illinois currently offers 6 different health screening programs throughout the state: FUNFitness (physical therapy), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest (sports physical exam), Opening Eyes (vision), Healthy Promotion and Special Smiles (dentistry).

Officially launched in 1997, Healthy Athletes organizes its events in a welcoming, fun environment. Its screenings educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and identify problems that may need additional follow-up.

From Our Family to Yours


Families play a critical role in the continued success and growth of Special Olympics Illinois. Families are the number one fans and cheerleaders of our Special Olympics athletes. They give the type of love, support, and encouragement that no one else possibly can. Special Olympics brings families together in such a positive way; it makes the cheers for our athletes even louder. The families of Special Olympics fostered 50 years of inclusion and will continue to spread the #InclusionRevolution for the next 50!