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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


January 19, 2015 | North America: Florida

My little brother, Timmy

By Rachel Edmister Tucker

Tim's big sister

Back in 1955, when I was only one year old, my Mom gave birth to a sweet baby brother, who she named Timothy James "Timmy". Timmy was born with Downs Syndrome, but in those days, all people born with that were called "retarded" or "retards".View Story Back in 1955, when I was only one year old, my Mom gave birth to a sweet baby brother, who she named Timothy James "Timmy". Timmy was born with Downs Syndrome, but in those days, all people born with that were called "retarded" or "retards". Being only one year younger than Timmy, I didn't understand at first, but as we got older, I started seeing the hatred and the fear of his difference from others, and the looks I saw aimed at him twisted my heart, it hurt so badly. I would never want another human being to feel pain like that, being set aside as damaged goods and called derogatory words , i.e., retard, freak, etc. God loves us all, we need to learn to love each other and stop the hate.

About Rachel Edmister Tucker:I am the big sister of a handsome young man, Timothy James Edmister, who has Downs Syndrome. It is because of him my heart has been made to understand what kindness and love are.
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January 19, 2015 | North America: Canada

Spread the Word!

By Jenna

I hear people telling their friends in the hallway not to use the r-word and I have people coming up to me and apologizing for having used it. Please share our video!View Story My friends and I did this presentation in front of our entire school. I am the blonde one and my twin brother is the one I hug at the end, he has cerebral palsy. Now, we have both posters fully signed pledging not to use the r-word, I hear people telling their friends in the hallway not to use the r-word and I have people coming up to me and apologizing for having used it. Please share our video!

About Jenna:My twin brother and I were born two months premature, and as a result he has cerebral palsy. We are best friends and I couldn't love anybody more.
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January 08, 2015 | Asia Pacific: New Zealand

Nothing Retarding My Progress

By Simon Buckingham

Last September, I stood for Parliament here in New Zealand for the NZ Labour Party. I am New Zealand's first Autistic Spectrum lawyer, and have two degrees behind me.View Story Last September, I stood for Parliament here in New Zealand for the NZ Labour Party. I am New Zealand's first Autistic Spectrum lawyer, and have two degrees behind me. I have neurodiversity issues, sure, but I am simply a bit different from the norm. Educated, professional, and even moderately well known in a small Country. There is nothing retarding my progress.

About Simon Buckingham:An average Aspie bloke, going through life like anyone else. I don't have a listed role however. Perhaps you need to have an option saying 'Other'. :-)
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January 08, 2015 | North America: Utah

Amazing People

By Jade Christensen

I know so many people who have disabilities or are not able do things that others can do. People call them the "R-word" all the time.View Story I know so many people who have disabilities or are not able do things that others can do. People call them the "R-word" all the time. My uncle has Down syndrome and he will come home almost every day and be really sad because people have called him that. It just breaks my heart. I think that that word is up there with the worst of them. It should never ever be said and when people say it, sometimes they don't mean it, and sometimes, unfortunately, they do. A lot of people just don't like what they don't understand, and they say that word, not realizing what they are actually saying. It needs to stop!

About Jade Christensen:A caring friend and family member who does not want people to get hurt by this horrible word!
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January 08, 2015 | North America: New York

Our Sunshine Girl

By Sandee Dain

I considered my sister (and do to this day), one of the most pleasant and wonderful people I have ever known. She was kind-hearted and caring all the days of her life.View Story My beautiful sister had an intellectual disability, as well as epilepsy during her short life of 19 years. She and I were very close - only 11 months apart in age. All her life I heard people make cruel and demeaning remarks about her and her classmates while she attended school, and many times when we were out in public. I considered my sister (and do to this day), one of the most pleasant and wonderful people I have ever known. She was kind-hearted and caring all the days of her life. She could come out of a grand mal seizure and give you a huge smile. I can remember being a typical, grumpy teenager one day, and she simply said, "Sandee, I love you." Sadly, she died from complications of a grand mal seizure, but to this day, she still serves as one of the most inspirational people I have ever had the honor of loving. Her gravestone is engraved with a sun and it's rays, and says "Our Sunshine Girl." No matter how dark, the day, she would always shine.

About Sandee Dain:I am the mother of two wonderful adult children, and grandmother of five. I am a full time student, studying for a degree in psychology, with a concentration in child and adolescent development.
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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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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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