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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


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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February 23, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Our Four Beautiful, Brave Children

By Kathleen Zajicek

Our younger kids are not aware enough yet to understand, but they will someday, and it breaks my heart to think they may be called this someday and be hurt, and it hurts me so much that my older children have now heard this word for the first time this year on their school bus and came home so upset and not knowing what to do or say to protect their little sisters.View Story We have four children, a 10-year-old daughter, a 9-year-old son , a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old daughter. Our two youngest happen to have Down syndrome. Although faced with many challenges, we are a normal family who loves each other, sticks up for each other and have a lot of fun and laughter together! It is hurtful to me, my husband and our two older children to hear the R word. Our younger kids are not aware enough yet to understand, but they will someday, and it breaks my heart to think they may be called this someday and be hurt, and it hurts me so much that my older children have now heard this word for the first time this year on their school bus and came home so upset and not knowing what to do or say to protect their little sisters. So this is why this is so importan , it can affect so many people, and shouldn't have to. So we need to get the word out there and educate people on this and that is not ok to use the R word. I don't believe everyone who uses it realizes how hurtful it is.

About Kathleen Zajicek:I am a nurse, a wife, and a mother of 4 beautiful children, 10yo, 9yo, 6yo, and 3yo, of which my youngest have Down syndrome.
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February 23, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

Stay strong

By Riley zajicek

I pledged to not say the R-word because I won't let a silly word bring down my little sisters. So I want to share my story with you. Both of my little sisters have Down syndrome.View Story I pledged to not say the R-word because I won't let a silly word bring down my little sisters. So I want to share my story with you. Both of my little sisters have Down syndrome; they are the cutest people I ever saw they are sweet & too young to realize what will have to be done in the future. My one little sister Madeline also has cancer at age 3. During chemo therapy she began losing hair I remember there was always this little piece of hair that would not fall out. While she was in the middle of her therapy she was always happy. But you could tell when she wasn't feeling good. Now she is done and at home in remission her hair is growing back and she is crazy. My other little sister Katie watches my brother Joey play hockey outside & she says she wants to play someday. Katie is so innocent she has a bad back were trying to fix it but it's not that easy. At age 6 she's still in a stroller and some day she's going to have to get a wheelchair. When she was 5 months old she got heart surgery.

About Riley zajicek:Hi my name is Riley Zajicek & I have 2 sisters & 1 brother my 2 sisters both have Down syndrome & the one has cancer as well my family has been through so much but I've learned life just gets better!
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February 23, 2015 | North America: New York

My awesome son with Down Syndrome

By Doris Priest/ Gregory

I gave birth to an awesome son fourteen yrs ago with Downs!! He is a smart young man!! He has been a blessing to our family!! The most loving person you will ever meet!! He just wants to be like any other teen in this world!! As we treat him as such!!! We couldnt love him more!!View Story I gave birth to an awesome son fourteen yrs ago with Down syndrome!! He is a smart young man!! He has been a blessing to our family!! The most loving person you will ever meet!! He just wants to be like any other teen in this world!! As we treat him as such!!! We couldn't love him more!!

About Doris Priest/ Gregory:I am fourth yrs of age! Mom of three. My youngest was born with Down Syndrome!! He is such a blessing and we wouldnt change a thing!! I love all my kids they are my world!! God Bless you all!!
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February 19, 2015 | North America: Missouri

Long time defender of those who can't

By Kayla aka KayBearDabs

To me there is no difference between the r-word and any other hateful slang word and none of them are okay to say. Thank you so much for starting this campaign!View Story I have had a lot experience with intellectually challenged children, some of which are my own family members. I will defend our friends and educate others about why it is not okay to use the r-word. Ever. To me there is no difference between the r-word and any other hateful slang word and none of them are okay to say. Thank you so much for starting this campaign!

About Kayla aka KayBearDabs:I'm a 22 yr old female consultant @ a psycholegal assessment firm by day, & a vip director @ an upscale house club on the weekends. Volunteer at StL Childrens Hospital as a youth special needs LLP
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February 19, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Ridin' With Doctah Steve

By Tim Prescott

Doctah Steve Prescott leading his ride!

My son is an athlete. He also has autism. He also LOVES motorcycles. Each year he sponsors a ride that supports local athletes.View Story My son is an athlete. He also has autism. He also LOVES motorcycles. Each year he sponsors a ride that supports local athletes and at which every participant raises their right hand and takes the pledge. He has a Facebook page dedicated to this cause: https://www.facebook.com/doctahsteve He has been recognized publicly by our local radio station, the state school system, and is held up as an example of the barriers that can be broken down if you just have some determination! We couldn't be more proud of the young man he has become and look forward to him getting this important message out for years to come!

About Tim Prescott:I am Steven's father. His mother and I help him in any way we can.
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February 13, 2015 | North America: Nebraska

Knowing The Difference

By Grace

On the subject of the 'r-word', people seem to be very radical. People either use this word frequently, with the same meaning at 'stupid', or people want to wipe the word itself out of our vocabulary.View Story On the subject of the 'r-word', people seem to be very radical. People either use this word frequently, with the same meaning at 'stupid', or people want to wipe the word itself out of our vocabulary, because of the people using it like 'stupid'. But, we need to keep in mind that some people are using the word correctly. I used to want to get rid of the word completely, but after talking with my brother, who is entering the medical field, he convinced me that we need not get rid of the word, but restore it to its proper use. This word used to be common in the medical field, but has been shamed because of the incorrect use. So, we do not need to completely abandon this word. We need to fix it. We need to let people know that way they are saying it is wrong and hurtful to those around them. We need to encourage the proper use, not discourage the word altogether.

About Grace:I have grown up with a disabled brother, and have been actively spreading the word to end the word.
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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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