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Our Families

Families are the No. 1 fans of our Special Olympics athletes. They give the type of love, support and encouragement that no one else can. Special Olympics is a support network that brings families together in a caring, positive way -- and that makes the cheers for our athletes even louder.

A mom gives a hug to two happy athletes at once

Smiles All Around. A mom gives a hug to two Special Olympics athletes at once.

Among Friends

At Special Olympics competitions and events, family members are among friends – and feel at home. They watch with pride as their child, sibling, cousin, grandchild, aunt or uncle find success and joy.

They are also among people who really understand. Because even family members can be unaware of all that their child or relative with an intellectual disability can do.

A mother in Great Britain says families are part of the team -- working together to make it all happen. "Everyone in the programme accepts each other without question. Everyone works as a team supporting each other." She says her son has made great strides since joining Special Olympics. "I know this has meant a great deal to him and, as a mum, to watch Jamie achieve and believe in himself is just wonderful." 


About Intellectual Disability

Special Olympics is a global movement of people who want to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. But what are intellectual disabilities? Learn More

Building Communities

Many family members become spokespeople or volunteers, coaches, fund-raisers and officials – giving them an important voice in Special Olympics.

Families are also an essential link to the community and wider support for our movement. By joining the Family Support Network, becoming a volunteer, and leading the expansion of Young Athletes, Special Olympics family members can really make a difference.

Families build communities by volunteering at athletic trainings, sharing links and information, talking online via a global network and serving in leadership roles. For every family member who gets involved, Special Olympics has a reason to celebrate.


Stories About Our Families


December 24, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Poland

Ski Camp in Zapone gave important life lesson

By Cristian Turcan

Thank you to all the organisers!

This year, me and my son, Alexander, took part for the first time at an event organized by Special Olympics in ski camp at Zakopane – Poland. Here we learnt that being different does not mean better or less good, but simply different.View Story This year, me and my son, Alexander, took part for the first time at an event organized by Special Olympics in ski camp at Zakopane – Poland. Here we learnt that being different does not mean better or less good, but simply different. The fact that Alexander was able to put the skis on his feet, like any other child, that he was excited about the snow, the air, the move was for us the best gift for the Christmas holidays. Not athletic performance gave necessarily the measure of this project, but the human performance of organizers and volunteers who have been with the children on the sky slope and activities room. Encouragement and support received by the children, they offered them invaluable support to move forward and to overcome limitations. Each day spent in the camp was a life lesson for all present and we hope to be for all who learn about this wonderful project. I've learned that love and understanding is the universal language, no matter what country you live.

About Cristian Turcan:I am a father of Special Olympics young athlete Alexander.
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December 24, 2014 | North America: Arizona

My Beautiful Son

By Victoria Gonzales

I have a son who is bipolar, A.D.H.D., and O.D.D. I can not stand the R word because he has been called that so many times. People and kids do not realize that it hurts their feelings.View Story I have a son who is bipolar, A.D.H.D., and O.D.D. I can not stand the R word because he has been called that so many times. People and kids do not realize that it hurts their feelings. He is so smart and a wonderful son to me and his sibilings. We all love him very much and am very proud of all the accomplishments he has done. So please let's get this word out of people's mouths.

About Victoria Gonzales:I am a single mom to four beautiful children and 4 grandchildren soon number 5 will be here. I work for Talking Stick Resort Casino. And my pride and passion is advocating for children and adults.
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December 23, 2014 | Latin America: Brazil

The Olympic Dream

By Lisabeth Aleoni Arruda

The kiss of Talisman

São Paulo’s Claudio Aleoni Arruda has 29 years of very significant achievements. He was the first person with Down syndrome to join the Riding School of Equestrian Society of Sao Paulo.View Story São Paulo’s Claudio Aleoni Arruda has 29 years of very significant achievements. He was the first person with Down syndrome to join the Riding School of Equestrian Society of Sao Paulo. He accumulated numerous victories in various competitions with Champion titles and runner-up titles competing in unified events. Speaking of championships in the 2005 jump champion he was crowned in 0.40 cm series of the Sao Paulo Equestrian Society’s internal ranking where he competed with all students in the Riding School. He repeated the feat in 2006 with the 0,60cm series. In 2008, challenging himself, he came in tenth place in the Regional Metropolitan Championship, competing in the unified event. 2009 was the year of "Glory" for has won the runner-up of the Sao Paulo Equestrian 0,60cm series and runner-up in the Regional Metropolitan championship in 0.60 cm series competing with 118 sets and was the only person with Down Syndrome. The turning point was in 2013 when he ended his Equestrian jump Career to devote to “Dressage” in order to one day become a trainer.

About Lisabeth Aleoni Arruda:
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December 17, 2014 | Middle East North Africa: Egypt

Champion Mariam Naeem

By sanaa monir

On the medal stand

Mariam Naeem is 15 years old. She does aquatics and equestrian as well as bocce. She also works as a TV hostess for a program about intellectual disabilities and also does volunteer work.View Story Mariam Naeem is 15 years old. She does aquatics and equestrian as well as bocce. She also works as a TV hostess for a program about intellectual disabilities and also does volunteer work.

About sanaa monir:I am Mariam Naeem's mother, Sanaa.
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December 12, 2014 | Why I Support Special Olympics

My brother was an angel in my eyes.

By Arnetta

In 1968, my baby brother was born with Down syndrome. He also was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2 years old. I remember the names other kids called him, and they would also use the R word.View Story In 1968, my baby brother was born with Down syndrome. He also was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2 years old. I remember the names other kids called him, and they would also use the R word. But I knew in my heart he was an angel, so when I was little I would pray that God would someday give me a baby just like him, I was so proud to call him my baby brother. take good care of your little angel sisters and God bless you.

About Arnetta:I have been married for 38 years, my husband Steve and I have 6 children, three birth and three adopted, we love our Lord and savior and we also love all children, no matter what.
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December 12, 2014 | North America: Alabama

One Step at a Time

By Jillian Smith

My brother Jack was born with Down syndrome, and he is probably my inspiration. Kids all around the world are being abused by this word and it should stop.View Story My brother Jack was born with Down syndrome, and he is probably my inspiration. Kids all around the world are being abused by this word and it should stop. People think R-Word is okay to just be thrown around when kids with intellectual learning disabilities are hurt from it day by day. I am in 8th grade and the word is thrown around all over my school. When I hear it I stand up and tell them that it shouldn't be used like that because 1. It isn't right 2. You're using the word incorrectly. I have about 3 people listening to me about not saying the R-Word. Everybody else just thinks it's ok but no. My best friend doesn't even listen. I am hurt by my fellow classmates acts but nobody cares. Therefore SPREAD THE WORD TO END THE WORD.

About Jillian Smith:8th grader and believer.
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December 12, 2014 | North America: Kansas

prove them wrong! I'm not R!!!

By Tisha Richardson

I remember when my daughter first started school and was tested on strengths and the teachers conclusion was that she has an intellectual disability.View Story I remember when my daughter first started school and was tested on strengths and the teachers conclusion was that she has an intellectual disability. I made a promise to myself that I would prove her and everyone else was wrong. To this day she has excelled tremendously and is on the same level as her peers! God is so good! I educate my peers about this diagnosis and teach them to not us that horrible word!

About Tisha Richardson:I am the mother of a beautiful little girl with down syndrome and Of a mother of a 16 yr old young man! I have dedicated my life to educating people about down syndrome and not to count people out!
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Special Olympics Blog

Sport and Tech Team Up for Good

Now, thanks to Microsoft, athletes, coaches and families will have rapid access to useful information about their scores, times, personal bests, fitness and health. Special Olympics can use this capability to dramatically improve the lives of people in our Movement.  read more »

Posted on 2014-10-27 by Janet

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