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 more than 5.6 million athletes with intellectual disabilities and unified partners 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 involved with our Unified Sports, a quick path to friendship and fun.
Special Olympics has events and competitions happening in places all around the world. View our events.
Get results by sport and team for major Special Olympics competitions.
Explore how Special Olympics is creating a more inclusive, welcoming world for all.
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Make a Difference
I was 10 years old and when I got started with Special Olympics in 1983 in West Seneca, New York.
Special Olympics Staff
I used to get called the R word every day at my old job. The guy had autism too, and he thought it was funny.
Growing up, I was taught to never demean others because of their differences. I always tried my best to respect those with disabilities.
I have trained numerous of my friends to not use the R-Word and have taught them the damage it truly does.
Her name is Adia. It means gift from God in Swahili. She is.
I've never let that word used in my home. We have friends with handicapped children - It always felt wrong and unacceptable.
I was a counselor for people with mental challenges.
In my house, ever since I can remember, the word “Retard,” has been the worst word you could possibly say. Worse than any curse word.
I just hope that at some point, we can end the use of this word that is being used for all the wrong reasons.
When you look at our Duder, do you see intellectual disability? Most likely not.
When I was in elementary school I had a classmate with autism. He was bullied just about every day. I regret not ever doing anything about it.
Jason A. Plants
I can't compete in varsity sports in high school because my skill level is low but Special Olympics gave me the chance no one else would give me.
I don't like the word at all and don't want it said.
My name is Sammi. I have many disabilities. I was in special ed classes in school. That meant dealing with people calling me the r word.
Over the past several years, I have been somewhat of a cheerleader! I am tearfully excited to see that people with physical and or mental issues have a chance to cross the finish line, thank you! I have also had the privilege to support the efforts of tent town through the loyal order of the moose!
Hopefully, in my lifetime, the word will end and my children and grandchildren will not even know the word existed.
I pledge to end the r word because i have developmental disabilities and its a word that just shouldnt be used to describe someone who has dd and the word needs to end
I have an older sister. She was born with downs. I had only met her twice because her mother put her up for adoption because she was a "monster" for being born with a birth defect.
We were kindred spirits right from the start. She was 2 years older, but from the beginning we were buddies.
My brother with Down syndrome lives with my husband and me, and LOVES to go to church. He always gives hugs to our pastor. He also calls himself "Pastor Jeff"! He is the most loving person around.
My Uncle Tom has Down syndrome and was in the Special Olympics and won all gold. He even ran the torch for a little bit. He's a better athlete then I am and I'm so proud of him.
I could never call my daughter the R- word. She is special needs, always has been. But she is the most fun loving, happiest, honest, forgiving, nonjudgemental beautiful young woman I know. She has a been such a blessing to our family. I tell everyone I know " she didn't need us, we needed her"!!
Hi I'm Dan and I have disabilities, and so I signed the pledge because I advocate for and live with people with disabilities.
This was my first year volunteering at the Special Olympics in Columbus, Ohio for the Summer Games I will say that that was my first of many years to come.
My brother and cousin both have Down Syndrome and they both have the biggest hearts. It truly makes me upset when I hear people using the R-word and them not even being bothered when saying it.
At age 8, I couldn't read or write at all, and people could not/would not understand how I was different and support my needs and desire to grow. Lots of testing and then the news: I was mentally retarded.
For the past four years, The University of Findlay’s (Ohio) student organization STRIDE (Students Teaching Respect for Individuals with Disabilities Everyday) hosts a “Spread the Word to End the Word” event to encourage faculty, students, and staff to take the pledge to stop using the “r-word”.
My family doesn't understand the use that word is awful. I'm high functioning austic. I was bullied all my life being called names mostly the r-word. I know what it's like to be different.
In high school, I became passionate about spending time with my classmates with disabilities. Every time I was "helping" them, they were really changing my life and improving me as a human being. Over the course of two years, three girls with disabilities became some of my best friends.
My incredible son who happens to have Down syndrome, is fully included in school, as well as society, I find it important that part of his inclusivity is ending the R word.
My sister is the reason I am who I am today. She just had her 36th birthday on the 1st! She is smart, loving, great with both kids and animals, and she has a wicked temper. Oh yeah, she also has an intellectual disability.
Don't ever give up, you are special. Even when no one seems to care just know there is always someone out there. Like even me. I care about every single being out in this world and I think it's important for no one to ever give up.
I'm constantly asking friends and family to stop using the r-word around me... and actually some of my closest friends and family quit using all together and preached it with there family and friends.
Twenty years ago I accepted custody of my cousin's son and agreed to raise him. I knew from the beginning that he was special. Over the years we have had many challenges to face but I wouldn't trade any of them for anything in the world.
She is a person not a word but she does happen to have down syndrome. However, she is a special person who has talent and loves just like the rest of us. Words hurt and my cousins feelings are easily hurt. Show love and respect not hurt.
My name is Josh Watson. I have special needs. I AM 29. I hear the R WORD a lot. I've been called the R word in the past. My friends have special needs. They have been called the R WORD.
My sister has Down syndrome. Because of this the r-word is a cuss word in my house. I try to keep my friends from saying it, and mostly they do. It's my belief that the r-word shouldn't even be in the dictionary.
Hi, my name is Josh Watson. I have special needs. I've heard the r word for the wrong reason. In fact I've been called the r word so many times.