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Illinois Special Olympics Set To Begin Downstate

Special Olympics kicks off at Soldier Field. (Credit: Lisa Fielding/WBBM Newsradio)

Special Olympics kicks off at Soldier Field. (Credit: Lisa Fielding/WBBM Newsradio)

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (CBS) — The Illinois Special Olympics begin Friday at Illinois State University.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, the games have Gov. Pat Quinn’s attention. On Thursday, Quinn told a special story about a Special Olympian – Marcy Bobell of Auburn, Ill.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

“When you were 9 years old, you were leading the race – first place, ready to go across the finish line; break the tape – when she noticed that the girl behind her in second place stumbled and fell down,” Quinn said, “and rather than finishing first herself, Marcy went over to the other girl and helped her up. You didn’t finish first in the race, but you’re first in our hearts, Marcy, and we want to thank you for that generous, charitable effort.”

The Special Olympics are for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Quinn said, “I know Anne Burke, who is one of the founders, (is) now a justice on our Supreme Court. The Kennedy family (was) there from the very beginning” in 1968, when the first Special Olympics took place at in Chicago.

The history of the Special Olympics can be traced back to the early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver took issue with the treatment of people with developmental disabilities, and the fact that children with special needs didn’t even have a place to play.

Shriver began holding a summer day camp for young people with developmental disabilities in her own backyard.

The 1st International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field on July 19-20, 1968. The games featured 1,000 participants from 26 U.S. states and Canada, who competed in track and field and swimming events.