We are a global organization with programs in 170 countries. This site may be customized by language and geographic region.
Teens and college students are the future leaders of Special Olympics.
It's the mission of Special Olympics to show the world the capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities.
We have over 4.7 million athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities around the world.
Our celebrity supporters are Olympians, professional athletes, social leaders, and movie and music stars.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a pioneer in the struggle for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities.
Direction for our movement comes from leaders in government, entertainment, sports and business.
All adults and children with intellectual disabilities can become Special Olympics athletes. Here's how.
Get involved with Special Olympics in your neighborhood. Find the program nearest you.
Get results by sport and team for major Special Olympics competitions.
Explore how Special Olympics is creating a more inclusive, welcoming world for all.
Your gift of $35 will help train an athlete for an entire season. Give today!
Discover the many ways you can support Special Olympics through your estate plans.
Make a donation and send a card in celebration or honor of a loved one.
Your efforts will help transform more lives through the joy of sports. Get started today!
Donate with confidence on our secure server.
Newsletter: Sign up and get inspiring stories!
Make a Difference
When anyone used the word retard or retarded it was absolutely so hurtful, both when he was here with me and now to his memory.
My sister had never heard that word before, and likely had no inkling of its meaning, but somewhere in her soul, that word pierced a tender place. She hung her head and froze. Her sparkling blue eyes teared up.
I was at a store with a friend. A man with down syndrome was called the r-word by his mean boss. He looked sad and my friend and I told him he was beautiful. It made him smile and I felt good about it.
This past summer, I represented Tuolumne County, Northern California, & the United States of America @ the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
Nearly 50 Special Olympics athletes will display their flag football talents during a skills and drills clinic with the San Francisco 49ers.
Anthony R. Folcarelli
In my early days (1950s) those who were mentally challenged, or suffered from some major physical handicap, were virtually hidden from society. For years our American culture lost out on the warmth, honesty, friendship, laughter, and unique personalities that now enrich our lives.
I have used the term without thought of meaning. I am guilty. I vow to not use it ever again and spread the word through awareness to stop the r word from being used.
A lot of my friends use this term. I make comments when they do like "what do you mean by that" or "that's hurtful why would you say that" a lot of my friends think it's funny. I speak out a lot. I ask my friends "would you say that in front of the special needs kids?" There answers are, of course, no.
I have friends who still use the R-word sometimes and it bothers me, not because I think of my son as being the R-word but because not only is it incorrect terminology but it is used as an insult. Since when does being delayed become an insult.
Jose Ayala / wit a little help from his teacher Loretta....
I started participating in Special Olympics when I attended Napa High School. I am going to the post secondary program Transition 3 at NVUSD. I have been chosen to go to the World Games in LA this summer.
Team Oakland swimming is one place where athletes can really fee like they belong because the coaches’ turn over is really low and we have some really good coaches that really care and really know what they are doing.
I grew up around Special Olympics and my uncle was mentally challenged. I have learned that mentally challenged people are almost the happiest people I have ever met! I have always told my friends to please not use the R word around my family and I.
My name is Kathy Wood. I live in Oakland, CA, with my mother. I have special needs.I had trouble in learning in all schools. I was never bullied, or made fun of. I feel bad when a person with special needs is made fun of.
When you saw feet that turned and curved,
I saw the cutest toes and softest skin,
When you saw hands that did not work,
I saw hands that looked like my own.
My son Ralph is my inspiration for ending the use of the "R" word. Ralph has Down syndrome. He is my whole world. Ralph has the biggest heart. His heart is so pure, so open.
I worked(???) for Special Olympics for 10 years..I was blessed to meet a very young girl --She was TRULY SPECIAL...We went to ALL the local events and TWICE to STATE GAMES..
About 12 years ago I joined the Napa Valley Special Olympics when Cross country was offered. However,my county has seen many changes, but track and field hopefully will be here to stay.
My aunt has Down syndrome. People expected she wouldn't be able to even dress herself, feed herself, or do anything without help for her entire life. However, her mother, my grandmother, always knew that she was capable of that and so much more.
In 1977, my son (and others) let me know that his teacher considered him "retarded" and was not including him in small group lessons in class. When we went to the School District in an IEP meeting I took my 7 year old son and let him sit in on the meeting.
Something pulled me into the special ed room of my high school freshman year, and I asked to join Best Buddies because I wanted to make a new friend or two who would be fun to hang out with.
Matthew C. Witteman
The reason I got involved in this in the first place is because I noticed that anyone who was even slightly different would always be called the r-word, and I think this is wrong.
I have MS and I walk with a limp. I have tried to stop retarded in it's slangy usage, but also to take lame out of slang when used the same hurtful way.
My name is Kathy Wood . I have special needs. I was born prematurely in January 1954. I was never bullied, made fun of, laughed at, etc.
My son Blaze was born with Trisomy 18. While pregnant I was urged to end the pregnancy due to the term, "incompatable with life". We decided to give Blaze a chance to live.
ESPN will be the official broadcaster of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, giving ESPN’s hundreds of millions of fans worldwide the chance to learn more about Special Olympics' mission to promote acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities.
Almost all the people we talk to come back to us and tell us a story about how they corrected someone too. It's the most rewarding feeling knowing we can affect chance with one simple action.
One of our favorite teachers – Ms. Flack at Monte Vista High School – has shared another one of her stellar lesson plans!
With plenty of championship banners adorning the walls and raucous cheers echoing from the gymnasium of Newark Memorial High School, you'd think there was a state title on the line.
A recent Friday at Pleasanton Middle School was definitely the best day of the week as 200 student-athletes participated in a Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program basketball competition!
Chances are you’ve heard someone use the r-word. Whether it was a just a joke or an intentional insult, it’s never OK to use the word. While medical professionals used to use mental retardation as a diagnosis, it’s now outdated.
With the Olympics days away and parts of the country suffering from the polar vortex, it was all things winter for the latest Ultimate Challenge in Las Vegas.
Black eyed peas: I do not like that you have a song that says the R word in it.
I got involved in Special Olympics in 1999. My first event was soccer. I remember loving it. I used to do all the sports, now I do track and field and bowling.
In 1999 I was chosen to go to World Games in North Carolina as an Equestrian Competitor. It was very exciting for me to show my skills off to other riders.
When I was growing up in grade school people did not know how to deal with my disabilities and in middle they all most made me miss a class trip.
My cousin and I are only a couple months difference in age but he has Down syndrome. He has been my cousin, my best friend, and my reason to want to take care of kids with Down syndrome.
Hi my name is Kimberly a. Sautner
I'm 32 years old i currently live in riverside ca. I was born in brush,Co. I was diagnosed carrier of fragile x-syndrome when I was 6 months old.
I have a nephew who is now 8 years old who was born with Down syndrome. At first we were all so shocked and sad. But he was loved by everyone not only family but everyone.
I am the 68 years old principal of a school. I received the gift of teaching from my friend and mentor Marie-Ange.
My younger brother has Autism. When I was probably about 9 years old and doctors were still searching for a diagnosis for him, I remember overhearing a fight my parents were having.
Andrea Fay Friedman
A slow learner being teased I did not know how to stand up. I had no friends. I was very lonely.
A couple years ago at an IEP meeting for LJ, his teacher told me that they had to choose what kind of disability LJ had. She said that she didn't like the name they used for it but this is what he was...
Filmed in Fresno, CA in the days leading up to and including the annual Special Olympics Track and Field event held this year on April 19, 2013. Everyone who participates in such events is rewarded.
More than 1,000 athletes at the Southern California Special Olympics Games in Irvine and Fountain Valley received a very special holiday gift...hearing. Nearly 30 percent of Special Olympics athletes have hearing loss, but many have not had viable access to hearing healthcare until now.
Matt is a Special Olympics athlete from California. He used to eat a lot of fast food and make other unhealthy choices, but one day he decided he needed to make a change. He started eating healthier