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Our Families

Families are the No. 1 fans of our Special Olympics athletes. They give the type of love, support and encouragement that no one else can. Special Olympics is a support network that brings families together in a caring, positive way -- and that makes the cheers for our athletes even louder.

A mom gives a hug to two happy athletes at once

Smiles All Around. A mom gives a hug to two Special Olympics athletes at once.

Among Friends

At Special Olympics competitions and events, family members are among friends – and feel at home. They watch with pride as their child, sibling, cousin, grandchild, aunt or uncle find success and joy.

They are also among people who really understand. Because even family members can be unaware of all that their child or relative with an intellectual disability can do.

A mother in Great Britain says families are part of the team -- working together to make it all happen. "Everyone in the programme accepts each other without question. Everyone works as a team supporting each other." She says her son has made great strides since joining Special Olympics. "I know this has meant a great deal to him and, as a mum, to watch Jamie achieve and believe in himself is just wonderful." 


About Intellectual Disability

Special Olympics is a global movement of people who want to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. But what are intellectual disabilities? Learn More

Building Communities

Many family members become spokespeople or volunteers, coaches, fund-raisers and officials – giving them an important voice in Special Olympics.

Families are also an essential link to the community and wider support for our movement. By joining the Family Support Network, becoming a volunteer, and leading the expansion of Young Athletes, Special Olympics family members can really make a difference.

Families build communities by volunteering at athletic trainings, sharing links and information, talking online via a global network and serving in leadership roles. For every family member who gets involved, Special Olympics has a reason to celebrate.


Stories About Our Families


March 02, 2015 | North America: Michigan

A better man.....

By James Hutson

Hutson clan of Michigan

My son was premature.....I just think that he couldn't wait to meet the world, so he ignored all the "rules" and came early.View Story My son was premature.....I just think that he couldn't wait to meet the world, so he ignored all the "rules" and came early. I can remember the day as if it were yesterday and the warnings of the doctors that he would never be 'normal.' They were right, he never was intended to be and neither are any of us. He is a compassionate, caring, and difficult young man who has more athletic desire in his pinkie than I ever had in 47 years. He loves those who are marginalized by perceptions of others, stands in defiance if told "You can't" and tries it anyway......He is a better man than many I have seen that are so-called 'normal.' There's not much to hurt this young man, but the 'r' word does....because of what it tells him about what others mean about his friends, classmates, and those who are unique in their abilities and gifts to the world. Let's end the use of the 'r' word.

About James Hutson:I am a 47 year old single father and have served as a coach, sideline encourager and benefited from watching true athletic honor and pride motivate those who show us true love and compassion.
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March 02, 2015 | North America: Northern California

My Daughter the Love of my Life

By Debra Prather

My poem: When you saw feet that turned and curved, I saw the cutest toes and softest skin, When you saw hands that did not work, I saw hands that looked like my own.View Story When you saw feet that turned and curved,  I saw the cutest toes and softest skin, When you saw hands that did not work, I saw hands that looked like my own. When you saw a mouth wide open with drool, I saw lips I just had to kiss, When you saw a child disabled and broken, I saw my daughter. The love of my life!

About Debra Prather:I wrote this for my daughter while she was in hospice. Sometimes the world lacked understanding because they couldn't see past her appearance. She was something wonderful and absolutely beautiful!
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March 02, 2015 | North America: Texas

My Birthday Surprise

By Kendra Strickland

On my 3rd birthday, my life & the way I viewed the world was forever changed!! My little brother Justin was born & he was the greatest birthday present I have ever received. Yes, he has Down Syndrome.but,, no that's not WHO he is.View Story On my 3rd birthday, my life & the way I viewed the world was forever changed!! My little brother Justin was born & he was the greatest birthday present I have ever received. Yes, he has Down Syndrome.but,, no that's not WHO he is. He is silly, full of laughs, collects DVDs, enjoys reading & sorting things, know every scene in the movie Max Kebble's Big Move & he is more passionate than anyone I know. He is NOT a retard, he is an incredible person with the compassion, faith & tenderness that I can only dream of having. Take time today to think about what you call others...is it uplifting, loving . and caring or are you using it out of anger, lack of understanding or to tear them down. No you may not be lucky enough to have someone like my brother in your family, but as I write this with tears welling up in my eyes, I hope your grateful for the loved ones, friends & family you have been blessed with & that you would think about speaking to them with love & kindness it matters!!!

About Kendra Strickland:I am 29 years old. Have been married for a little over one year. We have 2 dogs Zoey and Noah. I am employed with a mortgage company. I exercise using Beech Body and enjoy healthy eating.
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March 02, 2015 | North America: Florida

My Sister

By Cecilia

With a sister with Down syndrome, every time I hear the R word it crushes me inside. It makes it hard to function. My sister means the world to me and I can't stand to hear that word.View Story With a sister with Down syndrome, every time I hear the R word it crushes me inside. It makes it hard to function. My sister means the world to me and I can't stand to hear that word.

About Cecilia :
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March 02, 2015 | North America: Iowa

My Brother Changed Me

By Austine Nelson

At 20 years old I have a 9 month old brother. He was diagnosed with Down syndrome when my mom was 4 months pregnant, and ever since then I cringe when I hear the R-word. I have now made it a point and a goal to end the use of the word.View Story At 20 years old I have a 9 month old brother. He was diagnosed with Down syndrome when my mom was 4 months pregnant, and ever since then I cringe when I hear the R-word. I have now made it a point and a goal to end the use of the word.

About Austine Nelson:I am a 20 year old college student, with a large family including a baby boy with Down syndrome. He is a light in our life, and we wouldn't change anything about him.
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March 02, 2015 | North America: Florida

Stop the R Word

By Cecilia

My sister has Down syndrome and she means the world to me. She means more than the world to me. Without her there would be no world to me. I'm tired of the word. I hate it.View Story My sister has Down syndrome and she means the world to me. She means more than the world to me. Without her there would be no world to me. I'm tired of the word. I hate it. I'm tired of being bullied. My sister's been bullied. People come right up to me and start making fun of her. It's not funny. It's not cute. It's cold hearted and aggravating. Aggravating that no matter what I do it will always happen. Aggravating that no matter what anyone does it won't stop. So what's the point of this? What's the point of this rant? Because I have hope, hope that it will stop and that my sister an live a happy, close to carefree life. Don't get me wrong she has a happy life because all she sees is happiness. Have you ever thought that maybe people with a disability are the few perfect ones and we're the "abnormal" ones? We're the ones that see the good, the bad, and the average. All my sister sees is the good, the happy, the hope. The R Word is beyond wrong. Stop the R Word.

About Cecilia:
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February 25, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Proud aunt of 2 nieces with designer genes!!!

By Maggie Shearn

Retarded, retard, a word that just simply rolls out of our mouths. Yes, I am guilty of using this word until God blessed our family with Katie who is 6, and Madeline who is 3. Both sisters, both having Down syndrome.View Story Retarded, retard, a word that just simply rolls out of our mouths. Yes, I am guilty of using this word until God blessed our family with Katie who is 6, and Madeline who is 3. Both sisters, both having Down syndrome. The ignorance of people who look at these children while we are in public is unbelievable. Some just stare, some just walk past you fast as to say, "I don't want to catch what they have!" It breaks my heart knowing the repercussions of their disability will always be the public's use of the "R" word. A word they have no idea what it means right now, but their two older siblings do. Unfortunately, they have to hear this word in school, on the bus, and in public places. Yet, they hold their heads high, and protect their sisters. As their aunt, I am so proud of these 4 children, and that is why I'm telling my story to help spread the word to end the use of the "R" word. Please join me and help educate people that words do hurt, especially the use of the "R" word! Thank You

About Maggie Shearn:Proud aunt of two nieces with designer genes!
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Special Olympics Blog

Sport and Tech Team Up for Good

Now, thanks to Microsoft, athletes, coaches and families will have rapid access to useful information about their scores, times, personal bests, fitness and health. Special Olympics can use this capability to dramatically improve the lives of people in our Movement.read more »

Posted on 2014-10-27 by Janet

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