What We Do

Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries -- and millions more volunteers and supporters. We are also a global social movement.


About Us

Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment -- on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential. Here's a slideshow showing the full spectrum of our activities.  SEE IT ››


Real Sports Experience

For more than 43 years, Special Olympics has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the chance.

With training and competitions in 32 Olympic-style sports, our athletes push hard and play harder. They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again. From the local ballfields to the shining stage of the World Games, from swimming to snowboarding, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities.  

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“At every small event, at every big event, our athletes are striking out at injustice and challenging intolerance.    Tim Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman and CEO

Building Communities

Special Olympics works to spread compassion and acceptance in a way that can unite the world. Our goal is to awaken everyone -- and every community -- to each person’s common humanity. This vision of inclusion starts at the local level. It is expanding on a global scale.

There are about 200 million people with intellectual disabilities around the world. We want to reach out to every one of them – and their families and communities as well.  

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Changing Attitudes

Special Olympics is the leading voice in raising awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

We fight negative stereotypes and misperceptions. We educate people young and old about the skills and gifts of our athletes. We provide educational experiences for coaches, volunteers and teachers to enhance their knowledge and show them how the Special Olympics experience can transcend all aspects of their lives.

Special Olympics leads the world in researching the concerns of people with intellectual disabilities and how others perceive them. We use the research to influence policy and bring services to those in need. Special Olympics’ research is a powerful force for social and policy change around the globe.  

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Healthier Athletes

Special Olympics is also the world's largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Many of our athletes come to us with neglected health problems. At World Games and other events, we offer a wide range of free health screenings and care.

Our goal is to bring better fitness, nutrition and healthier lifestyles to everyone involved in Special Olympics -- from athletes and their families, to coaches and volunteers.  

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Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

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Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

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Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »


Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

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