CHICAGO (CBS) – The 50th annual Special Olympics Spring Games are kicking off in Chicago.

Hundreds of family members, coaches and fans will welcome more than 4,500 athletes at Thursday’s opening ceremonies. The event will be held at Soldier Field, where the Special Olympics was first held in 1968.

The Special Olympics is the largest sports organization in the world for people with intellectual disabilities. Today, 5 million athletes from 172 countries participate.

At Thursday’s ceremony, the Olympic torch was carried by athletes and coaches. There was also a drum line band, dancers and other entertainers.

Olympic hockey gold medalist Kendall Coyne from Palos Heights was on the field high-fiving some of the more than 4,500 athletes.

Coyne is one of two honorary co-chairs for the 50th anniversary celebration.

The other is White Sox all-star Harold Baines.

Athletes will compete in more than 25 track and field events taking place next Monday through Friday, May 7-11, at Dunbar Park on Chicago’s South side.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)