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Partners of the Movement


ESPN hosted the first ever Special Olympics Unified Sports Challenge at the 2018 USA Games in July. The event paired Special Olympics athletes with corporate executives, employees, and celebrities while raising funds and bringing awareness to Unified Sports.

ESPN is the Global Presenting Sponsor of Unified Sports and Official Broadcaster for the Special Olympics USA and World Games. ESPN is proud of its relationship with Special Olympics, which spans nearly 33 years. Over the past five years, ESPN has continued to deepen its relationship with the Special Olympics movement and invites everybody to join the Inclusion Revolution by taking the Inclusion Pledge at

The alliance between ESPN and Special Olympics uses the power of sports to promote social inclusion and acceptance through two pillars of the relationship: ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports® and a multi-year global programming agreement.

Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Special Olympics Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. With support from ESPN and others, Special Olympics has grown this innovative and inclusive program to more than 1.6 million participants.

Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding was an official event at X Games Aspen for the fourth consecutive year in 2018. Teams are comprised of one professional action sports athlete, including X Games and Olympic medalists, and one Special Olympics action sports athlete for a total of eight, two-person teams.

Since 2013, ESPN has invested over $6 million in cash and in-kind to support Special Olympics’ goal of building Unified Sports programming and resources in 10,000 schools, reaching 100,000 new or re-certified coaches and realizing 7 million acts of inclusion by 2020.

Through the multi-year global programming agreement, ESPN has served as the Official Broadcaster for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, and will also be the Official Media Partner of the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, hosted in Abu Dhabi.

Additionally, ESPN covered the men’s and women’s Final matches at the Special Olympics Unified Cup and launched the Special Olympics: 50 Game Changers” year-long storytelling initiative as part of its celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics. Each story will showcase an athlete, coach or parent, among others, who is making—or has made—a profound difference within Special Olympics over the years, a true game changer. All films can be found at

Additionally, ESPN employees have been engaged in volunteerism with Special Olympics for all of their nearly 33-year relationship, including more than 200 ESPN and Disney employees volunteering at the USA Games in Seattle in July 2018.

Being a good corporate citizen is a time-honored tradition at Disney and ESPN. We are extremely proud of our relationship with Special Olympics and thrilled to be global partners to Special Olympics and support the Inclusion Revolution. We are also proud to be the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports. We believe in and support inclusion because it’s right … and also because we believe the combined power of ideas is fundamental to helping us grow, improve and innovate. At the heart of our relationship with Special Olympics is a shared belief in the power of sport. We believe sports—at its best—can uplift people and change the world. The stories of Special Olympics athletes are REMARKABLE, and we are honored to bring them to the world.
Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of ESPN International

ESPN’s corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society’s most pressing needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. Learn more at:

Former first lady Michelle Obama posthumously honored Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the 25th annual ESPYS in July of 2017. Obama presented the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to son and Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver. Tim was joined onstage by eight Special Olympics athletes to accept the award.