Anne Burke wants fifth star on Chicago flag for Special Olympics

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In the 1980s, Anne Burke joins Mayor Washington and his team, from left: Police Supt. Fred Rice, Park chief Jesse Madison, Bears safefy Dave Duerson, Washington and Sargent Shriver.
| Sun-Times file photo



Last week, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke was invited to the Kennedy Compound at Hyannis Port to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics.

And she got a thank you.

In their own special way, the Kennedys — whose late, beloved International Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver was being revered on her birthday — also chose to publicly honor Burke — whose role in birthing the first Special Olympics in Chicago 50 years ago is still basically unknown.

“Just as Anne Burke and others whose spark and fire around the first games created a challenge, the Eternal Flame of Hope creates a challenge for today, a challenge for all of us to choose to include,” said Shriver’s son, Tim Shriver — now chairman of Special Olympics.

“I was honored,” said Burke, who, as a young physical education teacher at the Chicago Park District in the 1960s brought Shriver an iconic proposal to hold an Olympics-style track and field event for people with intellectual disabilities at Soldier Field, which was eventually held on July 20, 1968.

Then Shriver took it worldwide.


“But don’t forget the postscript to this story,” added Burke.

“The Chicago flag needs a fifth star, a living star . . . a Special Olympics star to honor its birthplace . . . unlike the ones for the Fort Dearborn Massacre and the Great Chicago Fire and the Columbian Exposition and the Chicago World’s Fair.

“This star on Chicago’s flag would not be a dead one,” she said.

“It will live on.”

Sneed is told Shriver’s speech was so intense, it led to the gravesite of his mother.

“It was on that [Kennedy Compound] lawn where we lit [Special Olympics] Flame of Hope, where my mother Eunice and her [intellectually disabled] sister, Rosemary, first played unified [without regard to special physical and mental needs],” he said.

RELATED ARTICLES: Unified Cup soccer tourney kicks off Special Olympics 50th anniversary events Special Olympics ‘eternal flame of hope’ monument set for Soldier Field site The Special Olympics legacy: How it all began in Chicago

“When we lit that flame a new fire was ignited,” he said.

“A fire to ignite a revolution of inclusion.”

The sculpture designed by Richard Hunt will be lit at noon Friday at Soldier Field in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. | Photo provided by<br>Justice Anne Burke

The sculpture designed by Richard Hunt will be lit at noon Friday at Soldier Field in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. | Photo provided by
Justice Anne Burke

“Mrs. Shriver [Eunice] grew up devoted to Rosemary from the time they were little girls,” said Burke. “She was Rosemary’s buddy and mentor, and knew her sister was different — but also knew her sister had skills when they played on that iconic grassy lawn,” added Burke.

“Back then there was no American Disabilities Act, no special education. People with special needs were hidden. Who knew they could jump and play ball and sing and dance?

“Mrs. Shriver knew,” Burke said.

Fire spire . . .

The Special Olympics’ 30-foot sculpture  — designed by famed Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt — is to be lit at noon Friday at Soldier Field in celebration of the event’s 50th anniversary. The flame will shoot 15 feet into the air. Check out the exclusive photo sent to Sneed.

Model Melania . . .

Strike a pose!

Or pose shock?

• To wit: First lady Melania Trump’s awkward facial gesture after shaking Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand in Helsinki caused a video to go viral and media speculation she may have been horrified.

One Twitter user thought she was “the only one in the room who understands how dangerous this man actually is.”

Uh . . . Sneed bets she is already familiar with the world’s most dangerous man.

Her husband.

Tips & twaddle . . .

• Bouncing Bonnie: Actress Bonnie Hunt blew into town this week to co-host Windy City Live and was spotted lunching at Harry Caray’s in River North on Wednesday.

• Happy Hudson: South Side native/ award-winning actress/singer Jennifer Hudson partying with 12 pals at Riva Crab House at Navy Pier on Sunday night.

• Wine whine: Reality star Lisa Vanderpump celebrating the launch of her Vanderpump Rose wine with family and friends Friday at the city’s Rose hot spot, The Hampton Social.

• Divot data: Golfer John Daly attended Chicago’s Windy City Smokeout BBQ & Country Music Festival on Friday night.

Sneedlings . . .

Frank Shuftan, the director of communications for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, has resigned. “I am retiring from full-time employment September 30,” he told Sneed. . . . Today’s birthdays: Jared Padalecki, 36; Benedict Cumberbatch, 42; LaMarcus Aldridge, 33; Andrea Mandarino, priceless, and a happy belated birthday to Peter Holsten, 69.

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