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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


April 06, 2015 | North America: New York

Why I Stopped Using the word

By Kerima

I stopped using the 'r' word 2 years ago, when my two little brothers were diagnosed with Autism. The 'r' word actually has a meaning, it's not something that should be used to make fun of others.View Story I stopped using the 'r' word 2 years ago, when my two little brothers were diagnosed with Autism. The 'r' word actually has a meaning, it's not something that should be used to make fun of others. My little brothers are my world, and when I say that, I mean that with everything I have. They are two little angels, and taking this journey with them means a lot to me. They are non-verbal making it very hard to communicate. I have this friend in school, he usually gets easily distracted and i'm always there to help them with there work, one day he was working and someone called him retarded. I was more angry than he was... no one should ever be made fun, no one. I pledge because This word should not be used in the wrong way, its disrespectful and it hurts feelings. I hope others pledge to.. I love my little brothers <3 <3 <3 and i love disabled children/people <3

About Kerima :I am a sister of two autistic brothers, and they mean everything to me.. I am 16 years old and am planning to be a special education teacher when im older :)
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April 06, 2015 | North America: Pennsylvania

No comparison!

By Lynn VanBlunk-Ruffenach

When I'm out and about or watching a movie with friends or family and hear someone using the R word to describe someone who is drunk, obnoxious or otherwise impaired it's a kick in the stomach to think they are comparing someone's socially unacceptable behaviour to my beautiful child!View Story When I'm out and about or watching a movie with friends or family and hear someone using the R word to describe someone who is drunk, obnoxious or otherwise impaired it's a kick in the stomach to think they are comparing someone's socially unacceptable behaviour to my beautiful child! It's very sad. I know they don't mean it that way but it is a comparison and taken that way all the same! It took my daughter being born for me to see how wrong, how hurtful, how inappropriate and how overlooked the comparison really is! Please Stop! Because it's been so misused it even hurts when it's used in the medical field! It's not fair because those who are being put down can not defend themselves. And we as advocates fight so hard to help them be productive members of their community. A community that uses such derogatory terms against them without a second thought! Please think!

About Lynn VanBlunk-Ruffenach :I'm June's Mom & Advocate. June is a delightful child who has Down's syndrome & type 1 diabetes they don't have her so she is not a Down's syndrome child's or a diabetic she's a child FIRST!
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March 29, 2015 | SOI: Region North America

Nathan

By Hope Ossakow

Ok,so yesterday my brother and I were at my other brothers tournament for soccer and my brother nathan with downsyndrome was making background noises like he usually does because of his disability and because he can't talk.View Story Ok, so yesterday my brother and I were at my other brother's tournament for soccer and my brother Nathan with Down syndrome was making background noises like he usually does because of his disability and because he can't talk and this boy just sits right next to him with his friend and just starts laughing at him and then says to his friend "he's so weird Ew" and luckily the friend kept quiet and observed Nathan without laughing. But then the boy got worse and said to his friend "ew look at his face " and I just kept listening as my anger was building up and finally the boy said "hello can you even hear me" and then after that said to his friend "I just want to punch him, all he is saying is eeeeeeeee" and then finally I couldn't stand it anymore and went over the the boy and said "punch him and you're dead" and then the boy and his friend ran away and that was the end of my perfect little brother nathan getting bullied / made fun of!

About Hope Ossakow:I am very athletic and love to sing. Even though I am considered a kid still i support all disabilities as much as possible and so does my whole family!
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Texas

Kempner High School Sugar Land Texas Bricks up Erase the "R' Word

By KHS Best Buddies Club Parent Team

The Best Buddies Club hold "BRICK UP THE 'R' WORD!" at Kempner High School Texas

Kempner High School, Sugar Land TX is hosting a 'Brick up the R word' all this week. The 'Bricks" will cover up the "R" word and spell RESPECT!!! The Best Buddies chapter of KHS is also hosting fundraisers to raise money for the Best Buddies Houston Friendship Walk in Houston on April 18th.View Story Kempner High School, Sugar Land TX is hosting a 'Brick up the R word' all this week. The 'Bricks" will cover up the "R" word and spell RESPECT!!! The Best Buddies chapter of KHS is also hosting fundraisers to raise money for the Best Buddies Houston Friendship Walk in Houston on April 18th. Go Cougars!!

About KHS Best Buddies Club Parent Team:My daughter has Down Syndrome & epilepsy. We are involved in the Best Buddies Chapter at Kempner High School. This club has changed her life. She has found her voice, her confidence and self esteem.
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Texas

Doubting Dr.'s, Therapists, Specialists... Proved Them ALL Wrong

By Mom

My daughter Kearstyn experienced 3 Right Frontal Lobe Infarct (Strokes) at birth delivery. From the beginning we heard nothing but negative, negative, negative and nothing positive or even what to expect.View Story My daughter Kearstyn experienced 3 Right Frontal Lobe Infarct (Strokes) at birth delivery. From the beginning we heard nothing but negative, negative, negative and nothing positive or even what to expect. Don't rely on the Dr.'s to answer your important questions. We surrounded our selves with others who have been through the same or similar circumstances. We did a lot of investigating on our own and well there are still many challenges a head but Kearstyn has proven alot of "Specialist, Therapists, Dr's, WRONG". She is taking on herself (with family and friends) to bring awareness to "Pediatric Stroke".. which not many people are aware of. Kearstyn is participating in the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America in the North Texas Route and doing her part to support the Special Olympics Family in her small way, with a big impact.

About Mom:I am a single mother with a Special Needs Individual. I use to say Child, but she is so much more than that. Everyday she teaches me more about myself, and my challenges seems so insignificant compared to hers and others in the Special Needs Community.
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Kansas

"It's just a word"

By Gretchen Shipley

"It's just a word, what's the big deal?," my friends would say. Yes it is a word. A hurtful word. Little do they know that my family tree is packed with relatives that have intellectual disabilities. Autism, Asperger's, Downe's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy.View Story "It's just a word, what's the big deal?," my friends would say. Yes it is a word. A hurtful word. Little do they know that my family tree is packed with relatives that have intellectual disabilities. Autism, Asperger's, Downe's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy. "Why is it acceptable to say the n-word, but not the r-word," they would ask. It's not okay to say any deragatory terms against people with different skin colors, age, sex, religion, or sexuality. I have lost many friends in my battle to stop the r-word from spreading to common vocabulary. I really care about my friends, but I care more about everyone getting along no matter what physical or indirect trait you have. I try my best to spread the word to end the word at my school, but there are more than 1000 kids there, and I can't talk to all of them. We need to do something so each and every one of the students at my school can learn what it means to be respectful of others and be kind to one another.

About Gretchen Shipley:My name is Gretchen and I am 16 years old. I grew up with intellectual disabilities in my family. I do not have one, but I treat my aunt, my cousin, my sister and my niece as if they were "normal".
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Illinois

In memory of Angela

By Harold William Greene

My sister, Angela Marie Greene

My sister, a special olympics athlete and the light of our lives, passed on this past summer. In memory of her inspirational life I wrote a song "Angela" titled by her name. Angela Marie Greene was severely handicapped in our way of thinking but lived a life of significance.View Story My sister, a special olympics athlete and the light of our lives, passed on this past summer. In memory of her inspirational life I wrote a song "Angela" titled by her name. Angela Marie Greene was severely handicapped in our way of thinking but lived a life of significance. Upon her passing I contemplated the meaning of her life. I thought about how her death would bring so many people together and wondered at the power of her life, the fact that many who would never even be in the same room together because of various family disputes, would in fact be together to pay their respects. As I pondered her incredible influence I arrived at this conclusion- Angela was the one person among all us "normal" people who knew how to love unconditionally. She greeted everyone with a hug and never knew what a "grudge" was! Her heart was pure and she was innocent of wrong doing. Special Olympics was always something she looked forward to, and a blessing to our family, thank you for all you do.

About Harold William Greene:I am a music professional- orchestra conductor, recording artist, instructor, guitarist, composer and arranger; the executive director of GreeneHouse Ministries at www.theghm.org I have been playing music professionally since the early eighties and am still very active; attended Berklee College of Music and NCCentral Unicersity, receiving a masters from Bowling Green State University.
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Special Olympics Blog

Jean Vanier, a prophet of humility and simplicity, wins!

Today, the Templeton Foundation gave its most prestigious award to my hero, Jean Vanier.  For Linda and our children and me, he has also been our retreat leader, our teacher of humility, our guide. 

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Posted on 2015-03-11 by Tim

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