The story of the woman who launched the first Special Olympic Games is being made into a movie. “Special” will center on Anne Burke, who was just 24 when she created the inclusive competition in 1968. ShivHans Pictures and production company In Cahoots are joining forces on the project. Deadline broke the news.
“It’s a female underdog story about defying the odds to create an event that brought thousands of disabled children out of the shadows,” the source summarizes, “an event that would grow into a worldwide phenomenon championed by Eunice Kennedy Shriver.”
In Cahoots’ Ken Kwapis (“Big Miracle”) will direct “Special” and Matthew Scott Weiner will write the screenplay based on his original pitch. Shivani Rawat and Monica Levinson of ShivHans Pictures will produce, as will In Cahoots’ Alexandra Beattie.
Burke, who is dyslexic, had dropped out of college and was working as a physical education teacher at West Pullman Park in Chicago before she created the Games. At a time when anti-war and civil rights protests were dominating the news, “the rights of the disabled were low on the priority list of progress,” Deadline writes. As she established the Games, Burke encountered resistance from reluctant parents of individuals with special needs as well as the prejudiced head of the Olympics commission.
After the inaugural Special Olympic Games, Burke went back to school and eventually earned a law degree. She is now an Illinois Supreme Court Justice.
Film About Special Olympics Founder Anne Burke in the Works was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.