Special Olympics kicks off 50th year - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Special Olympics kicks off 50th year

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MAKANDA -- 50 years for the Special Olympics.

The organization kicked off the milestone at Touch of Nature Friday, the place where one of its founding members worked for decades.

Several people sang the praises of William Freeberg, a SIU professor that started a camp for special needs children at Touch of Nature in the 1950s.

His granddaughter, Brittany Freeberg, said William grew up in an orphanage with several special needs children.

"We think that this is where he developed that deep-seeded belief that all kids deserve equal opportunities and he felt it was his job to make sure they got those opportunities," Freeberg said.

"To call Dr. Freeberg a pioneer leader in the field of outdoor education and recreation is an understatement," Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke said.

Touch of Nature honored her by renaming a building after her. They also unveiled plans for a new memorial at Friday's kickoff.

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-Illinois) came by to help kick off the Special Olympics.

"Every person deserves to achieve their fullest potential as a human being," Rauner said.

And there were some touching moments, including when Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) helped a woman get through "God Bless America."

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