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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 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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December 01, 2014 | North America: Idaho

My sister, my adopted son (grandson)

By Kathy Bessey

I am 51 years old and the youngest of 4. My oldest sister had severe learning disabilities and I listened as kids called her the R word. I hated it.View Story I am 51 years old and the youngest of 4. My oldest sister had severe learning disabilities and I listened as kids called her the R word. I hated it. She wasn't intellectually disabled, she just had problems learning like others. I was 6 or 7 when this hit me. I have never stopped hating that word and advocate against its use always. My adopted son (grandson) is disabled and learning disabilities are included, he is intelligent, warm, loving and a passion for life, far from anything anyone could associate with the R word!

About Kathy Bessey:I have 5 adult children, 9 grandchildren and one grandson that I adopted who has several mental health issues and is disabled. I am the grandmother to a murdered 22 month old child. I am a protector!
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December 01, 2014 | North America: Oklahoma

My Mom's Rule

By Tambra Galid

This isn't really my story, but my mom's. She spent her life with a cognitively and developmentally disabled brother who was called names his entire life. She decided it would stop with her and we were never allowed to call anyone the 'r' word when I was a kid.View Story This isn't really my story, but my mom's. She spent her life with a cognitively and developmentally disabled brother who was called names his entire life. She decided it would stop with her and we were never allowed to call anyone the 'r' word when I was a kid.

About Tambra Galid:Nothing to tell here.
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December 01, 2014 | North America: Arizona

Me and My Uncle

By Kirstin Will

My Uncle has Epilepsy and a few other things. It drives me nuts when people use derogatory language about him because they don't know him and he is clearly different than most.View Story My Uncle has Epilepsy and a few other things. Mentally he is on level with a 6-8 year old child. He has such a personality and he's very smart actually, he just can't express it in words. It drives me nuts when people use derogatory language about him because they don't know him and he is clearly different than most. He is one of the sweetest people I know. He has issues with pronouncing certain sounds, so he calls me Kitty or Keaton (last couple of years) and my mom is Cho. Anyway, Uncle Lane is a really cool person, and I love it when he gets to 'watch' me, we usually put on a movie. He hates it when people baby him, it's really the only time he will throw a tantrum. :) Having Lane around makes life more interesting and fun.

About Kirstin Will:I am a Junior in College and am earning my degree in Bible/Theology and Intercultural Studies. I am thinking about trying to get a Masters in Global Justice too.
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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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