Anne Burke to meet pope in Special Olympics honor

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Anne Burke is joined outside Soldier Field in 1987 by Police Supt. Fred Rice, Park chief Jesse Madison, Bears safefy Dave Duerson, Mayor Harold Washington and Sergeant Shriver. | Sun-Times files

Sneed exclusive . . .

It’s a papal summons.


Sneed has learned Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, the brainchild of the original Special Olympics — is among a delegation of eight invited to Rome on Wednesday for a special audience with Pope Francis in recognition of the international organization’s 50th anniversary.

“It all began on a 90-degree day on July 20, 1968, when the Olympics was born at Soldier Field,” said Burke, who was a special recreation teacher working at the Chicago Park District at the time.

“Children with special needs — intellectual differences — were bused in from 26 states and Canada, but most significant is that almost no one was in the stands to observe the games,” she said.

“Most were volunteers and coaches and brave athletes and, of course, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who had given us $25,000 and had come to observe the games,” she added.

“It pretty much went unnoticed in that chaotic year of 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were killed . . . and the subsequent riots . . . and the only reporter to cover it was sports writer Dave ‘In the Wake of the News’ Condon because his brother had Down Syndrome,” she added.

“That summer day in 1968 was the day this movement — which has now been held in 172 countries — quietly drew its first breath in Soldier Field. It has now become an international movement to erase the stigma of people with intellectual differences, not disabilities.

“All of us have intellectual differences!”

“By the way, Eunice Shriver, who helped me rewrite and expand my original proposal for a citywide track event in order to take the Special Olympics project national, attended the games — which she loved — barely a month after her brother was assassinated!



Melania mania!


Was the message emblazoned on the back of Melania Trump’s $39 green Zara jacket specifically chosen by the first lady before she flew to Texas on Wednesday to check out the condition of migrant kids separated from their parents in detention centers?

Was Sneed smoking posies or did the message really read: “I really don’t care. Do U?”

Was this a message for The Donald?

Was this a message for the ages?

Should we care?

Do U?

Hoop scoop . . .

It’s a slam dunk!

Congrats to Ariel Investments’ John Rogers and former Education Secretary Arne Duncan on being honored at the National Association of Basketball Coaches Foundation Court of Honor Gala in New York City on Wednesday.

• Game plan: The award honors individuals who have roots in college basketball and have achieved career leadership roles. Former President Barack Obama delivered a tribute via video; Obama BFF Marty Nesbitt; Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson; and Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski were courtside.


The Quinn bin . . .

Conservative firebrand William J. Kelly is giving former Gov. Pat Quinn a full hour every day on his 1590 WCGO Radio show this week to promote the “Take Charge Chicago” referendum, which could term limit Mayor Rahm Emanuel who is seeking his third term in office.

• Translation: Kelly is taking a page from WGN Radio legend Wally Phillips, who gave Quinn’s first referendum in 1976 a boost by having him on his radio show 12 times, thereby gathering 635,158 signatures that year to place it on the ballot.

• The bank shot: Quinn, who needs 100,000 signatures by August — and has 50,000-plus already — wants a two-term limit for a Chicago mayor.

Sneedlings . . .

I spy: Senate President John Cullerton spotted Tuesday at Phil Stefani’s hot new Lincolnwood eatery Stefani Prime Italian, which just opened for lunch. Yum. . . . Former Bears Mike Singletary, Dennis Gentry, Jeff Fisher and Dennis McKinnon dining at Gibsons in Rosemont recently. . . . Denver Nugget and former DePaul Blue Demon Wilson Chandler at Gibsons on Rush on Monday. . . . Today’s birthdays: Meryl Streep, 69; Anwar Hadid, 19; and Kurt Warner, 47.

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