(KFVS) - In front of an enthusiastic crowd at Chicago's historic Soldier Field, the Illinois Lottery, along with Special Olympics Illinois, Special Children's Charities and the Illinois Department of Human Services, unveiled the newest version of The Special Olympics Ticket - a unique lottery instant game benefiting Special Olympics sports training programs across Illinois.
Soldier Field is a significant venue in Special Olympics history. It played host to the first-ever Special Olympics competition nearly 50 years ago – July 20, 1968. One thousand athletes from the United States and Canada participated.
"There's no better place to showcase the new Special Olympics lottery ticket than Soldier Field," Illinois Lottery Director Gregory Smith said. "We're proud to help Special Olympics athletes across Illinois through sales of this ticket and to partner with Special Olympics Illinois and Special Children's Charities to help further the cause."
The first-in-the-nation Special Olympics Ticket, created in 2014 by the Illinois General Assembly, costs $3, and has raised more than $1.5 million since 2015 to benefit programs serving more than 40,000 Special Olympics athletes in Illinois. The game offers three top instant prizes of $50,000. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics sports training programs statewide.
"Organizations like Special Olympics allow Illinoisans with disabilities to hone their talents and strengths and build their
confidence while promoting a healthy lifestyle," Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary James Dimas said.
"Funds made available through The Special Olympics Ticket will help Illinois athletes to form new skills, embark on new
friendships, spend time with their families and have the opportunity to be included and recognized in their
"We are incredibly grateful to continue our relationship with the Illinois Lottery, which allows Special Olympics Illinois to
transform the lives of both current and future generations of Special Olympics athletes," Special Olympics Illinois
President & CEO Dave Breen said. "Funds raised from the ticket will lead to further innovation and program growth, and
expand opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families and volunteers throughout Illinois."
"Special Children's Charities appreciates the ongoing support of the Illinois Lottery and is grateful to every individual
who purchases the Special Olympics Lottery ticket," said Kevin Magnuson, president of Special Children's Charities. "Our
6,800 Chicago athletes enjoy year-round programs and the opportunity to build friendships, gain confidence and learn
true sportsmanship. Through this partnership, we are able to build a community of acceptance and inclusion for all."