CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - The Special Olympics Illinois has its 50th Anniversary kickoff on Friday, April 6.
Gov. Bruce Rauner joined athletes and volunteers for celebrations at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Carbondale.
"The Special Olympics has its roots in Illinois and is a major source of pride in our state history," said Gov. Rauner. "For the past fifty years, the Special Olympics has made the world a more compassionate and inclusive place. We thank those who laid the foundation for this life-changing organization."
The Touch of Nature Environmental Center began in the 1950s when Southern Illinoisan Dr. William H. Freeberg started a camp for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. His work was a guiding tool for Eunice Kennedy Shriver to built out programs across the country for the special needs community through The Kennedy Foundation.
Dr. Freeberg was also a consultant for Shriver and co-founder Anne Burke as they collaborated to plan the first Special Olympics, which was held at Chicago's Soldier Field in July of 1968.