Help us make a difference!

NELSON MANDELA 1918 - 2013

十二月 06, 2013

The whole world mourns the passing of one of the greatest sons not only of Africa, but of the entire world, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. This is a tribute by Dr. John Dow of Special Olympics.

300  200 Dove

Mandela and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, shared the stage at the 2005 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin.

An Inspiration to the World

There are not enough words to express the impact that he had upon those of us who professed to love freedom, justice and equality for all.

I can, however, remind us of the very real and enduring effect that his ongoing support brought to the Special Olympics movement not only in Africa but around the world.

In July of 2001, South Africa hosted “Special Olympics African Hope” and President Mandela was on hand to light the Flame of Hope at Robben Island. The event generated massive awareness for Special Olympics on the African continent and launched a major initiative to reach 100,000 new athletes in Africa by 2005. Today Special Olympics has reached nearly 175,000 athletes in Africa.


230x300 John Dow

Dr. John Dow is acting president and managing director of Special Olympics' Africa Region and chief operating officer for regional growth.

A Vision Realized in Africa

At the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland we had the overwhelming honour of having President Mandela address and celebrate our athletes at the Opening Ceremony with the following statement: 

“Few things in life could have given me greater pleasure or brought me more honour than to be associated with the Special Olympics. I regard myself privileged to be here on this occasion. Special Olympics is a testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit. Many of you have suffered great disadvantage in your lives…you serve as an example and inspiration…you, the athletes are the ambassadors of the greatest of humankind. You inspire us to know that all obstacles to human achievement and progress are surmountable.”

At these games he also shared his vision for Africa of Unified Sports™ which the entire movement is now embracing. He indicated that:

"Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does." 

I am proud to say that his vision was realised in Africa with the hosting of the first ever Special Olympics “Unity Cup” during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the Regional Unity Cup held in 2012. 

Although this global icon has passed away, his spirit and determination lives on through our athletes each day and at every competition. 

Our prayers go out to his family and to the people of South Africa and I leave you with these words for all of us to live by from this great man:

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." 


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.


Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!


Follow Us


捐赠 »

在我们的 226 个全球办事处查找当地的活动并了解相关志愿者机会。

查找您附近的地点 »

Our Supporters

AVSC RecordThe most successful benefit recording in musical history.Learn More »

Our Supporters

Annenberg FoundationSupports our goals for coaches’ excellence.Learn More »

Our Supporters

Bank of AmericaProud partner of Special Olympics.Learn More »

Our Supporters

Coca-ColaSpecial Olympics Founding Partner.Learn More »

Our Supporters

ESPNGlobal Presenting Sponsor of Unified Sports®.Learn More »

Our Supporters

EssilorOfficial global supplier of ophthalmic lenses.Learn More »

Our Supporters

Health One GlobalGlobal health data technology partner.Learn More »

Our Supporters

AIPSGlobal Impact Partner for Special Olympics.Learn More »

Our Supporters

Lions ClubSupports access to quality eye care.Learn More »

Our Supporters

MattelSupports Special Olympics Youth Programs.Learn More »

Our Supporters

Procter & GambleCelebrating over 30 years of partnership with Special Olympics.Learn More »

Our Supporters

SafewayRaises funds and awareness for people with disabilities.Learn More »

Our Supporters

SàfiloSupplies optical frames and sunglasses.Learn More »

Our Supporters

UNICEFProvides greater inclusion of children with disabilities.Learn More »

Our Supporters

MTM RecognitionSupplier of awards and medals for our athletes.Learn More »

Our Supporters

Perfect Sense DigitalSpecial Olympics' leading digital partner.Learn More »

Special Olympics Blog

The Start of the Solution

Young people from around the globe with and without intellectual disabilities are coming together at the SOGenUin Summit as part of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games with one goal - to change the world.


read more »

Posted on 2015-07-23 by Natalie

go to blog »


Special Olympics - Become a Fan