Special Olympics Spring Games come to campusBy Jennifer Leovy
The Olympic flame is burning bright on Stagg Field in honor of the 32nd annual Special Olympics Chicago Spring Games, which will continue on campus through Friday afternoon.
The Esperanza Workshop athletes lit the Flame of Hope during the opening ceremonies yesterday morning. Among the guest speakers were City of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley; Paul Vallas, chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools; and Tom Weingartner, Chairman of Physical Education & Athletics.
Approximately 2,700 athletes ages 8 and older will compete in 22 track-and-field events from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. The gold medalists will represent Chicago at the State Summer Games in Bloomington, Ill.
University students have volunteered to cheer, train and sponsor the Olympians during the three-day event.
In conjunction with Special Olympics, the Womens Athletic Association and the Order of the C, which are the womens and mens varsity letter organizations, will present an Olympic Town. Chicagos baseball team, along with several players from the Chicago White Sox, will conduct a baseball workshop for the athletes. The Fencing Club performed a demonstration at the village yesterday. Student Government members and several graduate students will provide face painting daily.
We want to encourage everyone to stop by Stagg Field to cheer on our athletes, said Amy Gleisner, president of the WAA. This is a huge event, and the University community may not know its right in our backyard.
The Womens Athletic Association is sponsoring athletes from the Ada S. McKinley School, a skills training center for people with mental retardation. During the year, women athletes held fundraisers to provide the schools athletes with uniforms and sports equipment. Our team will be wearing red, so you cant miss them, Gleisner said.
The Order of the C has likewise sponsored the A.O. Sexton Elementary School. We also invite our students to a sports clinic in June at the University, where they learn football, soccer and baseball, said Eric Chewning, president of the Order of the C. We hope our fellow students will come out and cheer all of the athletes. It means a lot to them to have fans in the stands.
The free games are conducted by the Chicago Park District and are made possible by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation.