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 4.5 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.
A gift of $35 can help train an athlete for an entire season. Help us reach one more person.
Provide dependable funding for our year-round programs.
Celebrate a friend or pay tribute in memory of a loved one with a donation to Special Olympics in their name.
Your fundraising campaign will help us transform more lives through the joy of sports.
Donate with confidence on our secure server.
Newsletter: Sign up and get inspiring stories!
Make a Difference
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.
JOSH WATSON RESPCT
When I was in school people used to make fun of me. I've been called the r word and four eyes. It was not easy in school.
when I'm at school i get called the r word behind my back. the reason i know that is that my best friend in the whole world , Emma, always tells me that because she over hears them calling me that. I hear it too.
Caitlin Oglitree via Leslie Daly ( SOHC Volleyball Coordinator)
I have always known the word is wrong. But several years ago I met a young man with an intellectual disability who became a close friend. He is also a Special Olympian who gives 110% in whatever sport he plays. But it's not just about sports. James is very intelligent, caring, thoughtful and funny
I heard about this after watching John C. McGinley talk about it in an interview. He's one of my favorite actors and has really inspired me to look into this.
you should know, my sister, Cathie, is 31 yrs going on 2 (mentally). and she's the best thing to ever happen to me/my family/my friends and if you get all 'up-in-arms' about a word, perhaps you should look at the policies in place for people that are the very definition mentioned.
I correct the r-word any time I hear it, because Abby is smarter and stronger than anyone who says it.
I was not a happy person. I was always walking around bowling green ohio with my head down. Special Olympics changed that. When I whent to the World Games I felt better about myself.
One day I was sitting with a resident who was having a bad day. As we talked through the issues that had upset him, he sadly looked down at his hands and shook his head.
Nicole Sellman Penny
At Max Hayes, we are doing the lunchtime pledge. We do the pledge during lunchtime because every student has lunch and we can reach the entire population.
I don't think people should use the r-word it is very offencive and you shouldnt use it. Why? Because you don't know how there life is or how they are treated and if you really want to say the r-word keep it to yourself because nobody wants to know!
Unfortunately, I still find myself using the r-word to describe stupid people and situations. But no more. We are ALL challenged in different ways. I pledge to stop using the R-word and will encourage others to do the same.
My brother never held a grudge against those who treated him unkind. I wish I could say that for myself. I wish I could be half as forgiving as he was.
I've coached wrestling for the past two years. This year I was privileged to have two student athletes who have intellectual disabilities.
Leslie Daly, Volleyball Coordinator, Special Olympics of Hamilton County Ohio
I really hope this campaign works. I can't stand the r-word
"After all was said and done, we get up to the register and the cashier told me that she has never seen someone handle something that hurtful the way I did."
As a long time donor to Special Olympics, I had considered becoming a volunteer/coach, but always thought that emotionally I probably wouldn't be able to do it. A few weeks ago I did it, and it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced.
I been doing Special Olympics for an little over a year and a half now and I love doing it but I never thought I would have found the goodwill gladiator without my sister Sally Williams.
You know everyone has a Special Olympics moment. Mine happened to be last year where I returned to the track at OSU for the summer games.