Special Olympics Turns 50

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JT is excited to be working with The Chicago Park District to build momentum leading into the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. Specifically, we were charged with highlighting Chicago as the birthplace of the organization, as well as raising awareness of the Park District’s central role in launching and growing Special Olympics over the past 50 years.

We will be working with the Park District through July 2018 and are proud of our early achievements. To date, we have developed a communications strategy to generate local awareness and excitement for the international celebration of the anniversary, to be hosted in Chicago in July 2018. Using an approach that blends outreach, media, and digital strategies, we’re educating and engaging people by highlighting the stories of local Special Olympics trailblazers and athletes.

Working in partnership with the Park District to identify spokespeople and athletes, we are conducting interviews to curate a series of profiles to use for outreach and content for video, website, social media, newsletters and more. We are leveraging all of the Park District communications channels to distribute content, in addition to engaging Chicago’s aldermen and the Chicago Consular Core, providing both with newsletter and social media content for their own channels.

In the short time since we began implementing our plan, we’ve had coverage from WBEZ-FM’s Morning Shift, Lawndale News, Alderman Michael Scott’s monthly newsletter and more. On the digital front, the first Special Olympics video we released received more than 52,000 video views, and reached more than 2.2 million people. We secured a front page story in the Chicago Tribune featuring the Park District, Special Olympics and one of the first athletes to compete 50 years ago. The story was pitched to coincide with the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics Spring Games at Soldier Field today.

We also managed event logistics for the March 2018 groundbreaking event of the Eternal Flame of Hope – a permanent, 30-foot monument for Special Olympics which will be located at Soldier Field, the site of the first games 50 years ago. The event involved Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly, Special Olympics International CEO Mary Davis, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke and Special Olympics athletes who participated in the first games in 1968. The event resulted in a successful event and ample media coverage – including the Associated Press (which was syndicated nationally, including in The Washington Post and New York Times), a front-page story in Chicago Sun-Times, Curbed Chicago, WGN Radio 720, WBBM Newsradio 780, and nearly all local TV stations.

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