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


July 08, 2014 | North America: Virginia

The R-word makes me cringe.

By David Michael Bowen

I disgusts me to hear people flippantly using the r-word in their everyday comments. At my job, where I began working two and a half years ago, I swear I heard the word at least 5 times every day.View Story I disgusts me to hear people flippantly using the r-word in their everyday comments. At my job, where I began working two and a half years ago, I swear I heard the word at least 5 times every day. Although I am a reserved person, I finally spoke up, said something to management about the way I cringe inside every time I hear it. Now, everyone knows not to use that word in my presence. And when they still slip and let it go, I give a glare, and sometimes they apologize. People need to realize how ignorant they appear when they use the word to describe what they feel is something or someone who is less than everything or everyone else. I have often imagined that the next time I hear the word at work, I will ask the speaker if the person he is referring to might also be a n____ or a f__ to see the reaction I would get. I know that person would think it racist and derogatory for me to say such a thing and give me "a look"; at which point I would simply give a look right back.

About David Michael Bowen:I have four lovely kids from 15 to 22 years old. It is truly amazing how different siblings can be. I love them all equally.
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July 07, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Israel

Eyal Damari is a Bowling Phenomenon

By Damari Amnon

My 15-year-old son Eyal Damari is a Special Olympics bowling player. Eyal bowls every Sunday in Modeiing Sunday Night Bowling League.View Story My 15-year-old son Eyal Damari is a Special Olympics bowling player. Eyal bowls every Sunday in Modeiing Sunday Night Bowling League. Every Monday Eyal bowls in Petah Tikva with his bowling coach, Gadi Aviram. His team was in first place out of 24 teams in the Special Olympics Unified League in Israel in the 2013-14 season. The Unified League pairs a Special Olympics bowler with an adult bowler from the Israel Bowling Federation. In two months Eyal will start the the national youth bowling league of the I.B.F. Here's a quote from the Modiein info newspaper in the "Local Sports Report " by David Nachenberg: Bowling Banter: The regular season of the Modi'in Sunday Night Bowling League has ended. Five of the ten teams will be in the top playoff bracket and the other five will be in the bottom group. They will bowl three sessions (9 games), and on July 20, there will be a champion in each division. On June 22, only two bowlers rolled a deuce--14 1/2 year old Eyal Damari had a 201 and Moshe Gabai had a 211. On June 29, the scores proved that bowling is for the young, and the not-so-young, and for men and women alike. Eyal Damari was in the zone and rolled a bunch of strikes and made all his spares to top all the bowlers in the league with a personal- best 246! Yehuda Kaplinsky, the most Senior bowler in the league, in his late 60s, was on the mark with a 233. Ziva Gur led all the women bowlers in the league with a 210. In the same game, her teammate Itamar Paz rolled a 204. Other bowlers to top the 200 plateau included: Naftali Zilber - 205, Reuven Ovadia - 204, Yossi Meni - 201. Here the results of Eyal's games last week and last Sunday on the league: 247, 225, 225

About Damari Amnon:About DAMARI AMNON: I am 56 years old married and have 3 kids 2 of them in the I.D.F I am working in I.A.I since I retired from the AIR FORCE I love to play bowling .My son Eyal study in modiien "gvanim" high school A school for special education and special needs students and all the time I am telling to my son don’t give up that’s why I teach to play bowling since he was 6 years old .
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July 03, 2014 | Asia Pacific: Bharat (India)

My special son Gods gift

By Anju Srivastava

My son Harsh Srivastava, a child with autism from Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) has won a silver medal in Special Olympics in the Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle, Australia and won many medals at the National level (Athletics and Swimming games).View Story My son Harsh Srivastava, a child with autism from Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) has won a silver medal in Special Olympics in the Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle, Australia and won many medals at the National level (Athletics and Swimming games). I had 3 months of child and mother training in New Delhi by which I can able to understand and help my child in daily life and in sports. He is interested in studies, sports, fond of food and traveling internationally. I didn't know he is a master in computer and cell phone. Even I don't know the functions of computer and cell phone. He would like to have big cars and having his own choice of clothes, furnishing items, car, mobile etc. He is fond of eating different types of Vegetarian food.

About Anju Srivastava:I am a house wife and having two children and my husband is working in public sector in Bangalore.I am a post graduate in Commerce and after knowing that my son is autistic I left the private job and started for the well being of my son.
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July 03, 2014 | North America: Florida

Landing in London

By Tia Blanton

Growing up I have always said things like "that's (r word)" never thinking of how harmful it can be to hear that word to others.View Story Growing up I have always said things like "that's (r word)" never thinking of how harmful it can be to hear that word to others. My whole demeanor changed when my nephew Landon came into this world. He had a rough journey in the beginning but now he is a strong healthy growing little boy. He has Williams Syndrome. And now I understand why when I was younger and said the r word why it was bad. It is something that my family NEVER says. We find it rude & chose to expand our vocabulary with positive & cheerful words. Because after all there's no time for negativity with Landon bringing so much cheer & joy into our lives.

About Tia Blanton:
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July 02, 2014 | North America: Florida

Cigna Stunned Disabled Child’s Parents

By Kraig Beahn

Trouble arose when Kraig and Jennipher Beahn received a letter from Cigna containing the words "mental retardation", concerning their daughter, Kennedi.View Story Trouble arose when Kraig and Jennipher Beahn received a letter from Cigna containing the words "mental retardation", concerning their daughter, Kennedi. The Beahns knew they had no choice but to reach out to the giant insurance provider. They suggested that the company consider updating to a less-demeaning term: "intellectual disability." Cigna wasted little time in responding. Within just two days, the Beahns had received from the insurer not only an apology but also a commitment to global change. The Beahns admit to being "shocked beyond belief" that little more than a tactfully worded e-mail could initiate a corporate action with the potential to affect millions of Cigna policyholders. "We cannot begin to express how deep our gratitude reaches," they said. As for little Kennedi, things are going well, considering she had open-heart surgery at just 76 days old. "She's amazing," say her parents, whose wonder and admiration concerning the child continue to grow every day.

About Kraig Beahn:Kraig Beahn, Kennedi's Father
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July 01, 2014 | North America: Florida

Cigna Stunned Disabled Child’s Parents

By Kraig Beahn

Kennedi Beahn, a CHD & Trisomy 21 #FearlessFighter

Trouble arose when Kraig and Jennipher Beahn received a letter from Cigna containing the words "mental retardation", concerning their daughter, Kennedi.View Story Trouble arose when Kraig and Jennipher Beahn received a letter from Cigna containing the words "mental retardation", concerning their daughter, Kennedi. The Beahns knew they had no choice but to reach out to the giant insurance provider. They suggested that the company consider updating to a less-demeaning term: "intellectual disability." Cigna wasted little time in responding. Within just two days, the Beahns had received from the insurer not only an apology but also a commitment to global change. The Beahns admit to being "shocked beyond belief" that little more than a tactfully worded e-mail could initiate a corporate action with the potential to affect millions of Cigna policyholders. "We cannot begin to express how deep our gratitude reaches," they said. As for little Kennedi, things are going well, considering she had open-heart surgery at just 76 days old. "She's amazing," say her parents, whose wonder and admiration concerning the child continue to grow every day.

About Kraig Beahn:Father of Kennedi Beahn, a Congenital Heart Defect Survivor w/Trisomy 21
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June 27, 2014 | North America: Florida

We need to be heard!

By Kim Hovey

My great-nephew, Luciano deals with Down's Syndrome... but it certainly doesn't being HIM down!

The R-Word is not just used on those with intellectual disabilities, but on MANY people who are differently-abled in some way. It is up to US, as a community, to stop this hurtful language.View Story We have family members who are disabled in a variety of ways, including intellectual disabilities. The R-Word is not just used on those with intellectual disabilities, but on MANY people who are differently-abled in some way. It is up to US, as a community, to stop this hurtful language. SEE the person and not the disability. THINK before you speak, and help others to do the same. RESPECT your neighbors and community members, no matter how different they are or in what ways. Help where you can... you will be blessed many times over in your own life!

About Kim Hovey:A retired and disabled ESE teacher, I now raise and train Service and Therapy dogs for placement in my community. I am a strong advocate for proper treatment of all differently-abled persons!
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Special Olympics Blog

A Powerful Prescription

"Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug."read more »

Posted on 2014-05-06 by Healthy Athletes

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