50 Game Changers

ESPN and Special Olympics teamed up on a year-long storytelling initiative telling the stories of game changers and game changing moments toward inclusion.
Rosemary and Eunice standing under and umbrella (black and white photo)

Kayla McKeon

Kayla McKeon is changing laws and attitudes as the first registered lobbyist with Down syndrome. As the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy with the National Down Syndrome Society, Kayla brings her personal story to the Nation’s Capital.

Rodney Hankins and Sam Perkins

Growing up, Sam Perkins and Rodney Hankins developed a close bond playing sports on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, dreaming of becoming world champions. It wasn’t until Sam saw Rodney competing at a Special Olympics event that he realized his friend had an intellectual disability—and his attitude towards people with intellectual disabilities was changed forever.

Karen and Violet

When Karen’s daughter, Violet, was born with an intellectual disability she didn’t know what to expect. Today, Karen is leading the charge to bring inclusive sport and play to children and their families through the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. Follow Karen and Violet as they open a bright new world of possibility for children of all abilities!

Jonny Pierce

Jonny Pierce is record-breaking swimmer who exemplifies the talent and dedication it takes to be an exceptional competitor. As a Special Olympics Southern California athlete and member of the US National Paralympic swim team, Jonny is changing perceptions about the talent of people with intellectual disabilities around the world.

Best Buddies Challenge

For last twenty years, Best Buddies has hosted the Best Buddies Challenge, an event that celebrates individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) with football, cycling, food, and fun. Join celebrities like Tom Brady and Guy Fieri as they team up with Buddies to show that everybody deserves to be included!

COLAB

Everybody gets a chance to shine at CO/LAB, where people of all abilities come together and express themselves through inclusive theater arts.

Women of Saudi Arabia

In a movement that has long been fueled by women’s leadership, the female athletes of Special Olympics Saudi Arabia are just the latest trailblazers who are breaking barriers for inclusion.

Jackie and Phillip

For individuals with severe or profound disabilities, the Motor Activity Training Program (MATP) uses sports adapted to individual strengths to build confidence and personal connections.

Spencer Roberson

Spencer Roberson is an accomplished Special Olympics athlete who made his victorious international debut at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

Law Enforcement Torch Run

For nearly 40 years, members of law enforcement around the world have been the biggest supporters of Special Olympics as members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Pizzability

Located in Denver, Colorado lies a restaurant where customers pay for delicious slices of pizza but life lessons about awareness and inclusion come free of charge.

Elliot De Niro

At a young age, Elliot De Niro developed strength and confidence through tennis. Today, he shares his love of sport and exercise with his best friend, Max, as they learn and grow together.

Milton Rosen the Rocks rock

Milton Rosen, a Special Olympics athlete, formed a close bond with Dwayne Johnson during their childhood.

Inclusion in UAE

People with intellectual disabilities are changing hearts and minds in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Rosas Law

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed “Rosa’s Law” which changed “mental retardation” to “intellectual disability” in US federal law. Inspired by nine year-old Rosa Marcellino, the law was a key component in the groundswell of advocacy efforts promoting inclusive, people first-language for people with intellectual disabilities.

Malachie

Malachie was found in a dark room, chained to a pole in a Tanzanian refugee camp. His life was changed when he was brought out of isolation and introduced to Special Olympics Unified Sports.

Hannah and Daina

Hannah and Daina found common ground through their passion for snowboarding and continue to grow their bond as they advocate for inclusion within the sport.

Bree Bogucki

For Bree Bogucki, growing up was anything but easy. She grew up isolated, locking herself in her room. At nine-years-old, Bree was introduced to sports and her life was changed forever.

Unified Sports

Unified Sports was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding for athletes with and without intellectual disabilities.

Kester Edwards

At the age of seven, Kester Edwards was run over by a bicycle that put him in a coma for weeks and changed his life forever. For years Kester was taunted and bullied for having an intellectual disability, but he found joy and purpose through sports with Special Olympics Trinidad and Tobago.

Loretta Claiborne

Loretta Claiborne went from being non-verbal to becoming the voice of the Special Olympics movement.

Living Unified

Kellis High School is one of many Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools that are transforming the lives of students with and without intellectual disabilities through whole school inclusive programming.

A Very Special Christmas

For more than 30 years, the biggest names in music, artists like U2, Run-D.M.C., and Madonna have contributed to the “A Very Special Christmas” album series, the most successful benefit recording in history.

Puerto Rico

In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and left many without homes, electricity, or the means to survive. SO Puerto staff, athletes, and families of Special Olympics Puerto Rico came together to support one another as the island slowly recovered from the damage.

Inclusive Workplace

Through the Best Buddies Jobs program, Peter Mullin is changing the game for inclusion at his job with the Washington Wizards.

Rajah Diouri Sy

Rajah, volunteer National Director of Special Olympics Senegal, partners with her community to open up opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Ken Melvin

Before Ken Melvin found Special Olympics, he was on a path that led to nowhere.

Parents with a Megaphone

The Inclusion Revolution takes all of us, and sometimes it’s parents who are leading the charge.

Arpita Mohapatra

To combat the deadly floods that ravage Odisha, India every year, Arpita Mohapatra trains children with and without intellectual disabilities in open water swimming, an important and often life-saving skill.

Andre Drummond

Before he was an All-Star center for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, Andre Drummond faced bullying and rejection as a child.

Unified Rivalry Series

College students across the United States join forces with Special Olympics athletes to take on their rival schools in fierce, respectful competition.

Ricardo Thornton

Ricardo Thornton survived the notorious Forest Haven institution (outside of Washington, DC), a place he describes as a prison for people with intellectual disabilities.

Jamie Brewer

Jamie Brewer has been breaking barriers in the world of entertainment ever since she landed her first role on the Emmy and Golden Globe winning series “American Horror Story”.

Ben and Nell

Nell Coonen-Korte had no idea her passion for sport would inspire the creation of a global inclusive fitness model.

Dr. Steven Perlman

In the 1990s, Dr. Steve Perlman and Eunice Kennedy Shriver met to discuss the lack of access to health care for people with intellectual disabilities, who were often denied treatment.

La Casa de Carlota

La Casa de Carlota is a Barcelona-based design studio that hires artists with and without intellectual disabilities to create unique and innovative designs for products and services.

Jamaal Charles

NFL running back and Special Olympics Global Ambassador Jamaal Charles got his start in sports through Special Olympics and for years was nervous to share his story.

Gerald Mballe

As a refugee, Gerald faced harsh discrimination. It was the athletes he met through Unified Sports who were the first to accept him in his new home. Follow Gerald as he joins our athletes in the Inclusion Revolution!

Danielle Liebl

Emboldened by personal experiences as a child with an intellectual disability, Danielle Liebl emerged as an athlete and leader of the Special Olympics movement.

Eunice and Rosemary

The relationship between Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her sister Rosemary Kennedy was the root of the entire Special Olympics movement.

Special Olympics: 50 Game Changers

Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts hosts a 60-min Special Olympics documentary airing Saturday July 28th 2:30PM ET | 11:30AM PT on ABC