DOWNTOWN — The Special Olympics spring games are back on in Chicago, with opening ceremonies to be held Thursday at Soldier Field.
More than 1,500 athletes will parade in the stadium at 9:45 a.m. Thursday. The opening ceremonies will conclude about 12:30 p.m., officials said.
Thousands of family members, coaches and volunteers will cheer on the athletes as they make their way to the field. The event is free and open to the public.
Special Olympics Chicago events will be run by the Park District and Chicago Public Schools, and local athletes will go on to compete in the National Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando in June, according to a news release.
Athletes from Vittum Park on the Southwest Side will carry the Flame of Hope alongside 2022 USA Games athletes from Chicago and members of the Police Department and Cook County Sheriff’s Department.
Jen Pankau, of Chicago Hope Church, and students of Chicago Hope Academy will be awarded Volunteer of the Year.
Special Olympics Chicago athletes — 8 and older — will compete across 25 track and field events 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. May 9-11 at Eckersall Stadium, 2423 E. 82nd St.
Athletes will run the 50-, 100-, 200-, 700-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter races. More will compete in long jump, shot put, softball throw, high jump, tennis ball throw, pentathlon, 100-, 400- and 800-meter road races.
Wheelchair events include 25- and 10-meter races, 30-meter slalom, softball throw, tennis ball throw and shot put.
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