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Real Sports Experience

Special Olympics’ most popular sports include football (soccer), athletics (track and field), basketball, bocce and bowling.

Sports is a powerful force. It can shift the focus from disability to ability, from isolation to involvement. We offer the highest quality Olympic-style sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities all around the world. This changes attitudes and changes lives.

300x Tennis player reaching

Striving for World Games. Athletes from more than 170 countries will compete at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Learn More

The Power of Sport, Worldwide

The transformative power of sports to instill confidence, improve health and inspire a sense of competition is at the core of what Special Olympics does. From the detailed coaching guides we provide in many languages to the sharp-eyed officials at our international games, the focus is on real sports, real competition, real achievements.


A smiling young athlete with a shining new gold medal raises her arms in triumph

Feeling the Power. A smiling young athlete with a shiny new medal raises her arms in triumph.

Standing Tall

In Special Olympics, the power and joy of sport, shifts focus to what our athletes CAN do, not what they can't.

Attention to disabilities fades away. Instead, we see our athletes' talents and abilities -- and applaud them for all that they can do. And they are doing a lot -- from gymnastics to soccer to open-water swimming. With 32 Olympic-style sports, we offer adults and children with intellectual disabilities many ways to be involved in their communities, many ways to show who they really are. 

Since 1968, Special Olympics has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the opportunity. And it all happens through the simple power of sport.

The Power of Sports

At Special Olympics, we believe that sports can teach us all important lessons. When we train and strive for a goal, it teaches us to dream. When we struggle, it teaches us determination. When we win, we find joy. And if we lose, we can find the strength to try again.

Our sports events bring together a large and inclusive community of athletes, supporters and families, coaches, volunteers and many others. The athletes are at the center of it all. They become the heroes -- to the shared joy of themselves, their families and their communities.

These events help us all rediscover the purity of sports -- and real athletic pursuits -- based on true Olympic ideals. 

Best in Sport

Special Olympics trainings and competitions are empowering because our athletes prove to themselves all they can do. This inspires them to achieve even more, both in sports and in life. But it’s more than that.

At each Special Olympics event, all of us can see and experience the purity of sports and real athletic success. Our athletes are pushing hard for goals some people can't imagine, against obstacles few have had to face. Their drive to succeed comes from deep inside -- it comes from the heart. What happens can be truly magical.

At the last World Games, a veteran sports reporter thought he’d already seen all the great modern sports figures in action. He changed his mind when he saw Ederson Idrogo on the track. The 23-year-old from Special Olympics Peru was struggling to put one foot in front of the other. He was soaking in sweat under the hot Athens sun during the men's 100-meter walk. Yet he did not give up. Ederson's sheer will and determination brought everyone in the stadium to their feet, their hands clapping together to cheer him on. He did not stop until he reached the finish line; only then did he collapse and catch his breath -- and smile.

The sports reporter says this was a moment he'll never forget. He said that if "greatness" can be seen as overcoming obstacles with determination and heart, then there was a whole lot of greatness at the World Summer Games. In fact, he called the Special Olympics competitions nothing less than sport "in its purest form."

Ederson Idrogo’s run was just one of many moments of greatness among Special Olympics athletes that day. There are many such moments in the making at Special Olympics events any day of the week, all over the world. Come see for yourself.

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


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Our Supporters

The Christmas Records TrustFunding Special Olympics work worldwide.Learn More »

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Annenberg FoundationSupports our goals for coaches’ excellence.Learn More »

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Bank of AmericaProud partner of Special Olympics.Learn More »

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CITGOOfficial Fuel Sponsor for the Unified Relay Across AmericaLearn More »

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Coca-ColaSpecial Olympics Founding Partner.Learn More »

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ESPNGlobal Presenting Sponsor of Unified Sports®.Learn More »

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EssilorOfficial global supplier of ophthalmic lenses.Learn More »

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AIPSGlobal Impact Partner for Special Olympics.Learn More »

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Lions ClubSupports access to quality eye care.Learn More »

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MattelSupports Special Olympics Youth Programs.Learn More »

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MicrosoftRevolutionizing information systems that power our games.Learn more »

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MTM RecognitionSupplier of awards and medals for our athletes.Learn More »

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Perfect Sense DigitalSpecial Olympics' leading digital partner.Learn More »

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Procter & GambleCelebrating over 30 years of partnership with Special Olympics.Learn More »

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SafewayRaises funds and awareness for people with disabilities.Learn More »

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SàfiloSupplies optical frames and sunglasses.Learn More »

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Toys“R”UsHelping children of all abilities experience #MyFirstSportsMomentLearn More »

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UNICEFProvides greater inclusion of children with disabilities.Learn More »

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Y&RPowering our global youth marketing campaign.Learn more »

Special Olympics Blog

The Start of the Solution

Young people from around the globe with and without intellectual disabilities are coming together at the SOGenUin Summit as part of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games with one goal - to change the world.


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Posted on 2015-07-23 by Natalie

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Special Olympics - Become a Fan

Your Donation Helps Transform Lives Through Sports!

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