Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver at Soldier Field

Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration - Friday, April 6

The Special Olympics celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018.  It all started, July 20, 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago.  What you might not know is the Special Olympics has its roots at Touch of Nature and Southern Illinois University with the pioneering work in therapeutic recreation by Dr. William Freeberg.  Freeberg was a consultant for the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation hosted by President John F. Kennedy’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver.  With Freeberg’s help, Mrs. Shriver helped kick off the first Special Olympics and develop it into the worldwide phenomenon it is today.   

Touch of Nature is proud to host the kickoff of the Special Olympics Anniversary Celebration on Friday, April 6.

10:00 a.m. -  Opening Ceremonies: Honoring the legacy of Dr. William Freeberg.

11:00 a.m. - 4:00 pm:  Change the Game Day: An inclusive community event highlighting Touch of Nature and Special Olympics activities.

Change the Game Day is a day full of fun Special Olympic-specific activities, as well as camp activities, outdoor recreation and traditional sport activities. Basically, it’s a little something for everyone. Food vendors will be on site this day.

Children and adults are invited to Touch of Nature to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics and to honor Southern Illinois University and Touch of Nature's very own Dr. William Freeberg. Doc Freeberg worked tirelessly to not only develop programs for SIU like Camp Little Giant, but also assist in the development and founding of the Special Olympics. The ideas and programs that came from Touch of Nature are now serving nearly 5 million athletes worldwide!

Thank you for joining us for this monumental event.

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6:00 p.m. -  A Gala in the Woods: a fundraising event to support Touch of Nature and Special Olympics in Southern Illinois.  Cost is $150 per person or $1000 for a table of eight – RSVP by March 30.

  • Reception 6-7 p.m. - Light appetizers will be served with local wines, beers and spirits.
  • Dinner served at 7 p.m. - Dinner by Great Boars of Fire.  
  • Live Auction and Alongi's Wine Pull at 8 p.m. - Funds raised will contribute to Touch of Nature and Special Olympics programs and services.  
  • To reserve your seat: Call 618/457-2969. Seating is limited. Casual attire please.
  • Onsite overnight accommodations are available.  Call 618/453-1121 for information on pricing and availability.  

Community Partner

River Radio Group logo

Event Partners 

phrp-srs   Country Financial   SIU Credit Union

  Illinois Laborers and Contractors         Laborers Local 773    

 Ullico    Rauner Family Foundation                    

Gold Sponsor

Knight Hawk Coal, LLC

Silver Sponsors

All Stars-N-Stitches  Sam's Club

  College of Education and Human Services   SIU Student Affairs

 Silkworm           SIU Student Center

 Midwest regional Organizing Committee

Midwest Regional Laborers Health Safety Fund

Illinois Laborers-Employee Cooperation & Education Trust

Bronze Sponsors

Illini Asphalt                      ET Simonds

 Alongi's     Western DuPage Special recreation Association

Fare Foods         Ace Hardware


 Midwest Regional Foundation for Fair Fontracting

Midwest Region Laborers – Employers Cooperation & Education Trust