• 20 music stars from the 1990s who took part in the A Very Special Christmas album

    Special Olympics in the 1990s

    The first International Games are held outside the USA, as Special Olympics gains a greater global foothold. New health programs mark a turning point as well.    

    The "A Very Special Christmas' series continues to attract new and top recording artists, who donate their talent to raise funds for Special Olympics.

  • Three men stand with a lighted Special Olympics torch

    Special Olympics in the 1990s

    The first International Games are held outside the USA, as Special Olympics gains a greater global foothold. New health programs mark a turning point as well.

    The Flame of Hope heads to the 1999 World Summer Games in North Carolina, thanks to dedicated officers of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

Pushing for Inclusion and Improved Health for People with ID

By the 1990s, Special Olympics is attracting global attention, thanks to enthusiastic support from media and high-profile fans from around the world. For example, the joyous 1991 World Summer Games became the focus of a two-hour ABC-TV broadcast, "Victory and Valor." One of many highpoints at the star-studded Opening Ceremony before 60,000 fans: a rare live performance from multi-Grammy Award winner Prince.
Special Olympics Mexico swimmer Michelle Falcon has her vision tested.
Special Olympics Mexico swimmer Michelle Falcon has her vision tested.

January 1997

Healthy Athletes becomes an official Special Olympics initiative, providing health-care services to Special Olympics athletes worldwide. The program includes free vision, hearing and dental screening, injury prevention clinics and nutrition education. The Healthy Athletes program has provided more than 1.7 million free health examinations in more than 130 countries since its creation in 1997.

20 July 1998

Special Olympics celebrates its 30th anniversary with the introduction of the first Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers. These 12 remarkable men and women travel the world as spokespeople for the rights and respect for people with intellectual disabilities over a two-year term.

17 December 1998

U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton host “A Very Special Christmas from Washington, D.C.” It's the first time the White House hosts a Special Olympics gala and the first time that artists from “A Very Special Christmas” album series gather together to perform. In 2000, President and Mrs. Clinton host “A Very Special Christmas” for the second time.

Next: the 2000s

Our fourth decade is all about growth -- exponential growth around the world. Millions of athletes are taking part in thousands of competitions every year. The sun never sets on the Special Olympics movement! Learn more about Special Olympics in the 2000s.