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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


March 04, 2015 | North America: Tennessee

Harlow Everly

By chels munn

On August 13, my sister in law blessed us with a new beautiful baby girl to add to our family. Moments later we found out she had Down syndrome- I couldn't imagine Harlow any other way.View Story On August 13, my sister in law blessed us with a new beautiful baby girl to add to our family. Moments later we found out she had Down syndrome- I couldn't imagine Harlow any other way. She has had many set backs, however seeing her grow and stay determined makes my heart smile and makes me the most proud aunt ever. In the past year & a half she's had surgeries, along with many seizures. Recently, we have found out she's seizure free & is now able to eat normal food! People don't realize how hurtful & disrespectful they are being using the R word. If they would spend one hour with my niece- or any special needs child- I feel they would change their vocabulary. I know I did.

About chels munn:Proud t21 aunt to my precious Harlow!
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March 04, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

My Nephew, Leaston James Easterling

By Dee Harvey

Lea J as he is called, is now 10 yrs. old. He can not communicate with normal people very well with words but he understands everything that is said to him. His knowledge is far from our reach.View Story Lea J as he is called, is now 10 yrs. old. He can not communicate with normal people very well with words but he understands everything that is said to him. His knowledge is far from our reach. I have seen him take things that we have given up to the trash and fixed it. He is remarkable. He does things to him computer that we have yet to figure out how he did it. He can't tell us how but he takes care of the problem. He appears to be over-friendly and most people dont like that and then they want to use the r word. That is when this Auntie get very upset. He is a loving child. They have a way of communicating like no other but he does get what he wants to say out in some manner or another.

About Dee Harvey:Just an ordinary Aunt of 63 years old who lives with and helps care for my nephew Lea J and his sister Rose Aleigh. I am on disability which gives me lots of play time with both children.
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March 04, 2015 | North America: Maryland

Strength and Unconditional Love

By Courtney

My brother was born with the inability to walk or talk. That never hindered his ability to love or support anyone in his life. Learning how to be selfless and strong during countless setbacks in life is easily the best lesson I could have learned from him.View Story My brother was born with the inability to walk or talk. That never hindered his ability to love or support anyone in his life. Learning how to be selfless and strong during countless setbacks in life is easily the best lesson I could have learned from him. He was always smiling and laughing, even when he was in so much pain he couldn't sit up. Watching his face light up at fireworks and super hero noises was inspiring and without a doubt the thing I miss most. His strength, perseverance, love, laughter, faith, and compassion are few of the things I take with me through this journey without him. I was blessed to have such an amazing brother and now I'm blessed to have an incredible guardian angel. If we could all learn to love and respect each other the way my brother did, this world would be a much better place. Unconditional love and encouragement. Ending the "R word" would be the answer to my prayers.

About Courtney:
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March 03, 2015 | North America: Virginia

For My Brother

By Natalie Roy

My brother Josh has Down Syndrome, but he never let that stand in his way. On top of being one of the most genuinely caring, kind hearted, and pure personalities in existence, he is an athlete, an artist, an entertainer, a jokester, a hug bug, a prayer warrior, and a hero.View Story My brother Josh has Down Syndrome, but he never let that stand in his way. On top of being one of the most genuinely caring, kind hearted, and pure personalities in existence, he is an athlete, an artist, an entertainer, a jokester, a hug bug, a prayer warrior, and a hero. He has taught me more about love, life, and acceptance than I ever thought it possible to know. The R-Word trivializes everything that he has been able to accomplish in this life. It labels him as someone who has failed rather than someone who has succeeded. He has overcome far more difficulties than the average person will have to face, and he should be praised and commended for that, not condemned and mocked. When we were young, people used the R-Word to describe him, rather than examining his heart and his character. I stand by the Spread the Word to End the Word organization because I know that there are people out there along with Josh who deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and love.

About Natalie Roy:I am 26 years old and originally from California. I am attending graduate school at Regent University for my MFA in Acting, and I will always be an advocate of love, respect, and equality for all.
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March 03, 2015 | North America: North Dakota

Waverly is such a beautiful blessing

By Lisa S

I was guilty of using that word to describe things, and I was so totally wrong. It took the blessing of our beautiful Waverly to understand it, and I did in an instant.View Story I was guilty of using that word to describe things, and I was so totally wrong. It took the blessing of our beautiful Waverly to understand it, and I did in an instant. She is 19 months old and is so amazing. I feel so bad when I think of how I abused that word. That word is so wrong. I get so sick feeling when I think about Waverly ever having to hear that word directed at her. I pray that she never does. Ever.

About Lisa S:Blessed to be the mother to such a special little girl.
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March 03, 2015 | North America: South Dakota

Down syndrome

By Ally

Down syndrome can be really bad thing to have because you are more likely to be bullied because you look different than every body else. The thing about Down syndrome is that you are happier than other people about things that are happening but when you are being bullied about it that makes them really depressed and unhappy.View Story Down syndrome can be really bad thing to have because you are more likely to be bullied because you look different than every body else. The thing about Down syndrome is that you are happier than other people about things that are happening but when you are being bullied about it that makes them really depressed and unhappy.

About Ally:I am 14. I live in Sioux falls South Dakota. I got to Patrick Henry Middle School.
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March 03, 2015 | North America: Kansas

my litlle sister

By Dakota Essig

Ive listened and fought with people my whole life about using the r word. Im so happy someone is finally putting a stop to it!! Thank you so muchView Story My little sister was born with a rare heart defect and while going through surgery she died and was resuscitated and suffered brain damage and is mentally disabled. She is the most loving caring and intelligent person i have ever met. Ive listened and fought with people my whole life about using the r word. Im so happy someone is finally putting a stop to it!! Thank you so much

About Dakota Essig:Im a 24 yr old staff at a company that assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And honestly i wouldnt change it for the world
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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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