What We Do

Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries -- and millions more volunteers and supporters. We are also a global social movement.


About Us

Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment -- on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential. Here's a slideshow showing the full spectrum of our activities.  SEE IT ››


Real Sports Experience

For more than 43 years, Special Olympics has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the chance.

With training and competitions in 33 Olympic-style sports, our athletes push hard and play harder. They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again. From the local ballfields to the shining stage of the World Games, from swimming to snowboarding, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities.  

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“At every small event, at every big event, our athletes are striking out at injustice and challenging intolerance.    Tim Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman and CEO

Building Communities

Special Olympics works to spread compassion and acceptance in a way that can unite the world. Our goal is to awaken everyone -- and every community -- to each person’s common humanity. This vision of inclusion starts at the local level. It is expanding on a global scale.

There are about 200 million people with intellectual disabilities around the world. We want to reach out to every one of them – and their families and communities as well.  

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Changing Attitudes

Special Olympics is the leading voice in raising awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

We fight negative stereotypes and misperceptions. We educate people young and old about the skills and gifts of our athletes. We provide educational experiences for coaches, volunteers and teachers to enhance their knowledge and show them how the Special Olympics experience can transcend all aspects of their lives.

Special Olympics leads the world in researching the concerns of people with intellectual disabilities and how others perceive them. We use the research to influence policy and bring services to those in need. Special Olympics’ research is a powerful force for social and policy change around the globe.  

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Healthier Athletes

Special Olympics is also the world's largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Many of our athletes come to us with neglected health problems. At World Games and other events, we offer a wide range of free health screenings and care.

Our goal is to bring better fitness, nutrition and healthier lifestyles to everyone involved in Special Olympics -- from athletes and their families, to coaches and volunteers.  

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Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

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Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

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Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 220 worldwide locations.

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Our Supporters

The Christmas Records TrustFunding Special Olympics work worldwide.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Annenberg FoundationSupports our goals for coaches’ excellence.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Bank of AmericaProud partner of Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Coca-ColaSpecial Olympics Founding Partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

ESPNGlobal Presenting Sponsor of Unified Sports®.Learn More »


Our Supporters

EssilorOfficial global supplier of ophthalmic lenses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

AIPSGlobal Impact Partner for Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Lions ClubSupports access to quality eye care.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MattelSupports Special Olympics Youth Programs.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MTM RecognitionSupplier of awards and medals for our athletes.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Perfect Sense DigitalSpecial Olympics' leading digital partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Procter & GambleCelebrating over 30 years of partnership with Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SafewayRaises funds and awareness for people with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SàfiloSupplies optical frames and sunglasses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

UNICEFProvides greater inclusion of children with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Y&RPowering our global youth marketing campaign.Learn more »


Special Olympics Blog

Suneedhi: a Girl, a Clinic, a Dream

For a dental surgeon such as myself, screening was just the first step! i felt we needed to go beyond examinations to ensuring people with intellectual disability got any treatment that they needed. I felt I could help more. read more »

Posted on 2014-09-22 by Lynn

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Special Olympics - Become a Fan

Limited-Time Match Offer: Donate Monthly and Help Us Reach More Athletes

Monthly giving is easy and convenient. Donate today and transform lives all year long through the joy of sport.

Special Olympics gets an extra $100 for each new monthly donor.