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Special Olympics Program Emergency Relief Fund
Rebuilding from the devastating impact of COVID-19
Special Olympics is the largest grassroots sports organization for people with intellectual disability globally. With inclusive sport, education, and health programming in over 200 countries, reaching over 3 million athletes with intellectual disability, our reach has drastically been affected by the devastation of COVID-19 worldwide. This Program Emergency Relief Fund will go directly to support country Programs globally as they rebuild for strength, scale, and inclusion.

People with intellectual disability globally have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19


Someone with intellectual disability is 6 times more likely to die from contracting Covid-19 than those without (1)


Having ID was second only to age as a factor in COVID-19-related deaths (2)

Illustration of a schoolhouse.

1.4 billion students around the globe were forced out of their classrooms and into social isolation (3)

Illustration of a shot.

An average of 80% of people in high-income countries have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to only 13% of people in low-income countries (4)

A majority of Programs lost more than half of their athletes, coaches, and volunteers [5]

70% of Programs lost most of their athletes
30% of Programs retained most of their athletes

66% of Programs lost most of their volunteers
34% of Programs retained most of their volunteers

56% of Programs lost most of their coaches
44% of Programs retained most of their coaches

68% of Programs lost most of their staff
32% of Programs retained most of their staff
Special Olympics athletes need your help to get back on the playing field. Every donation to the Program Emergency Relief Fund will go directly to support on-the-ground programming in country Programs.

With your support, and our country Programs’ incredible innovation and resilience during this time, we are confident that our rebuilding will generate even more strength, scale, and inclusion than before.

[1] Bosworth, M. L., … Kuper, H. (2021). Deaths involving COVID-19 by self-reported disability status during the first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in England. The Lancet Public Health, 6(11), e817-e825.; Gleason, J., … Stephens, M. (2021). The devastating impact of COVID-19 on individuals with intellectual disabilities in the United States. NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery.

[2] Gleason et al., 2021

[3] Human Rights Watch. (2021). “Years don’t wait for them”.

[4] Ritchie, H., … Roser, M. (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations [data set]. Our World in Data. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from

[5] Special Olympics. (2021). COVID-19 pandemic global survey [Unpublished raw data].