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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


July 03, 2015 | North America: Arizona

Hearing the "R" word does the same to me as fingernails on a chalk board

By Maigan's Mom

I have a 13-year-old daughter who has Down syndrome and possibly autism. Most people in my life know about my daughter yet they still throw the "R" word around like it is nothing more than a word.View Story I have a 13-year-old daughter who has Down syndrome and possibly autism. Most people in my life know about my daughter yet they still throw the "R" word around like it is nothing more than a word. To me the "R" word is right up there with the "N" word, it is disrespectful and degrading. People living with a cognitive disability (formerly known as “Mental Retardation”) are beautiful, smart, funny, loving and amazing human beings whose rhythm just might be at a difference pace than most. So I challenge everyone to think before you speak and don’t be so quick to name call or label people especially someone or something that seems a little different, be kind and appreciative to others.

About Maigan's Mom:Mom of an amazing and beautiful young lady
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June 30, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Their special moments

By Susan Martin

I put them on a bus with others some as special as them others leaders to help. My husband and I would meet them there but they would be staying a few days in campus dorms.View Story I put them on a bus with others some as special as them others leaders to help. My husband and I would meet them there but they would be staying a few days in campus dorms. They had fun rooming with others competing and cheering others on. Going to a dance and enjoying time in the Olympic village in the end they both came home with medals but the smiles and memories of what they accomplished and the friends they made was what it was all about. For my husband and I a trip worth taking to see them having this special times and making memories. Special Olympics, Special People, Special Times. Truly Blessed

About Susan Martin:I am the mother of 6 adopted children 2 with special needs of which I knew before I adopted them. This was a blessed event that I will let them do again. My Moro enjoy your children and your grandchildren life goes fast making memories is how this family rolls!!!!!
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June 25, 2015 | Asia Pacific: Pakistan

Athlete Leadership: A mission of skill, courage, acceptance and joy

By Daulat Asif Visram

Adil Asif Visram was unable to cope in school. In 1990, he joined a special school and learnt to play different sports. His health improved, he became confident and made many friends.View Story Adil Asif Visram was unable to cope in school. In 1990, he joined a special school and learnt to play different sports. His health improved, he became confident and made many friends. Due to his hard work in 2002, he was selected through the Special Olympics Athlete Leadership program as an Assistant Coach. He says, “The first time I got a salary I was so excited that overnight I grew up from a boy to man.” He was trained to speak and to create awareness at events, schools, media etc. His dedication led to being selected by Special Olympics International as 1 of the 12 international global ambassadors. At the 2007 World Games in China, he gave a welcome speech at the opening ceremony in front of an audience of 70000 people. Adil said, “I was told later by friends and family that all those who saw me on TV cried with pride and joy and praised Special Olympics for organizing such a huge event. I think China and Special Olympics gave hope and joy to the participants and millions of people around the world."

About Daulat Asif Visram:A family member
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June 25, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Austria

dont wait till its to late

By lynette

Hi, my name is Lynette. I am in a family with everyone having a disability, and it's so hard. People see me with my family and from that I always used to get called "retard."View Story Hi, my name is Lynette. I am in a family with everyone having a disability, and it's so hard. I am the most able one even though I have a disability myself. People see me with my family and from that I always used to get called "retard." Not as much anymore but it breaks me so much when I see my brother with cerebal palsy getting called retard or something like that. He is so defenseless, he can't tell them to stop or anything but when you get to know him he is the best friend anyone could wish for. He's the best character. It's cruel and unfair and people don't understand the effect it has on people.

About lynette:im 16 and my passion is to give back to the community for helping me and my family
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June 25, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

My reserve win

By Nathan Klein

In a AQHA show of last year I won a chaps bag that said I was the reserve champion. On January of this year the best thing happened to me. At an award ceremony I got a reserve champion gold buckle. It had my name, my horse's name and two rubies.View Story In a AQHA show of last year I won a chaps bag that said I was the reserve champion. On January of this year the best thing happened to me. At an award ceremony I got a reserve champion gold buckle. It had my name, my horse's name and two rubies.

About Nathan Klein :I am Nathan, I am a youth in horse showing and I've been to special olympics 3 times and I've won 4 gold meadls, 7 silvers and 0 bronze out of 12 classes
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June 25, 2015 | North America: Indiana

My Baby

By Kylie

My baby brother was born weighing 1 pound 12 ounces and today is our miracle, he is almost 18. He might be a special needs child and have autism but he is my everything! I will proudly take a stand for him!View Story My baby brother was born weighing 1 pound 12 ounces and today is our miracle, he is almost 18. He might be a special needs child and have autism but he is my everything! I will proudly take a stand for him!

About Kylie:
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June 25, 2015 | North America: New York

Connor and Cameron

By The mother of Cameron and Connor

Today I took the boys to the park, and on my way I saw a bunch of kids, possibly 100. They were talking loudly, laughing, and walking to the park. As Connor pushed Cameron's wheelchair, I walked by them.View Story I am the mother of two lovely boys, Connor and Cameron. Cameron has cerebral palsy. Connor is "normal" and loves to help out with Best Buddies and his older brother. Today I took the boys to the park, and on my way I saw a bunch of kids, possibly 100. They were talking loudly, laughing, and walking to the park. As Connor pushed Cameron's wheelchair, I walked by them. We were laughing about a funny experience Connor had had at school that day. Cameron was laughing so hard and smiling so hard. He was making noise and drooling, but Connor and I enjoyed it because he was having so much fun. However, the other kids stared at him and pointed at him and laughed. Connor and I frowned and Cameron stopped laughing. The kids kept laughing and pointing, but then one girl yelled, "Stop making fun of him!! He's a person, too, you know!" The other kids looked at her, shrugged, and kept walking. The girl smiled at us and gave Cameron a thumbs-up. Cameron and Connor high-fived!!

About The mother of Cameron and Connor:I am the mother of two beautiful boys, Connor and Cameron!
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Special Olympics Blog

Jean Vanier, a prophet of humility and simplicity, wins!

Today, the Templeton Foundation gave its most prestigious award to my hero, Jean Vanier.  For Linda and our children and me, he has also been our retreat leader, our teacher of humility, our guide. 

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Posted on 2015-03-11 by Tim

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