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


August 19, 2014 | North America: Pennsylvania

Special Friend

By Nicholas Piccari

Special Olympics is a place where my brother Danny can be himself and a place that accepts all kinds of special athletes. Danny has been involved with Bucks County Special Olympics in gymnastics, soccer, softball, track and field, and bocce. He even had the honor to go to World Games in Shanghai China about 8 years ago.View Story I created a video that shows just a few examples of how not only my brother, but all people with special needs are truly amazing people. From the impact that they have on us, to the love that they share. How they simply want to live their lives just like we do. Yes, they have disabilities, but they are still humans just like everyone else. They long for friendship, fun, and even love. Special Olympics has been a blessing for my brother. Not one to be shy, clearly from the video, but it is a place where Danny can be himself and a place that accepts all kinds of special athletes. Danny has been involved with Bucks County Special Olympics his whole life. From gymnastics, to soccer, softball, track and field, and bocce. He has excelled in every event he has competed in. Even getting the honor to go to World Games in Shanghai China about 8 years ago. There are many positive thing one can say about Special Olympics. From the Coaches, to the volunteers that help out, the parents, but more importantly the friends Danny has created along the way. Friendship that are as strong today as they were when they first met through Special Olympics. Special Olympics is an organization that helps show how these athletes are true heroes. How many of them have overcome obstacles that many of us couldn’t even fathom. My brother is a walking miracle, surviving a surgery doctors deemed he would have very little survival (that’s a whole other story). Even with his obstacles I tried showing how much of a blessing and normal life he does live. So, yes, they are right in saying my brother is special, but special in a different way. He is a special athlete, a special brother, and one heck of a special friend.

About Nicholas Piccari:I play music and every show I play my brother Danny is always there to support. Every show he attends, Danny always asked me to play the Irish song "Oh Danny Boy". That song does not fit my style of playing so I did the next best thing. I wrote him a song so anytime he asked me to play his song, I can. I also put a little video together for it.
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August 19, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Israel

In Israel, Mothers Made Time for Children with Intellectual Disabilities After Leaving Air Raid Shelters

By Robi Dolev

Special Olympics Israel mothers and 120 families that have children with special needs living in the Gaza Strip war zone came to a summer vacation in the north of the country.View Story Special Olympics Israel mothers and 120 families that have children with special needs living in the Gaza Strip war zone came to a summer vacation in the north of the country. We offered to make art workshops. When I asked the Special Olympics families who was willing to volunteer, the response was overwhelming. We included Miki, the bocce coach, who requested to join us to play bocce. We eight mothers set off on Wednesday with the bocce coach. We operated through stations, and many people came to join in the activities. The families spent hours with us, crafting, laughing and simply enjoying. We saw mutual assistance between siblings: What love did they pile upon their special brother/sisters. Eight-year-old Noya fell in love with 3-year-old Meir, a remarkable child with Down syndrome. “Can I take him home as a gift?” she asked his mother. Meir’s mother responded with “Such a gift from heaven comes, but once in a lifetime, and I am not letting him go!” It was an unforgettable experience for all.

About Robi Dolev:My name is Tali, I am the family coordinator in Israel, i encourage each time the family members to share stories.
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August 19, 2014 | North America: Georgia

The R-word..What Does It Really Mean?

By Flo Mayes

My daughter sees your stares and she cries. She hates going out in public and I understand that. She is the person no one else wants to be, but she is my super hero.View Story Being the mom of 40 yr. old Christina, who has Dpwn syndrome and mild autism, qualifies me to say that the R-word refers to a person who has to fight battles every day not only to conquer their own limitations, but also against the preconceived and incorrect perception of what society at large thinks the R-word means. Why do people think my daughter is somehow not human and incapable of feeling emotion? It is quite the opposite. Why do people talk about her right in front of her like she isn't even there? Why do people brazenly stare at her as if she can't see them? Ignorant and inconsiderate are the words to describe their actions, which I am sure they would be offended if I called them that. MY DAUGHTER IS A HUMAN BEING WITH FEELINGS LIKE ANYBODY ELSE! She sees your stares and she cries. She hates going out in public and I understand that. She is the person no one else wants to be, but she is my super hero.

About Flo Mayes:I am Christina's and her four younger siblings mom. Semi-retired but very busy still.
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August 18, 2014 | North America: Michigan

An unexpected journey

By James Hutson

The Hutsons of Michigan

I don't know where he got the athletic passion and desire from, but I have watched this young man who bears my last name and my hopes and dreams excel in the world of others who are part of a cadre of special people.View Story I can remember when he was born.....how I was told in the days following his first breath that life would be difficult and challenging. I don't know where he got the athletic passion and desire from, I'm a Olympian of the Couch potato-variety. But I know where he gets his sportsmanship and pride from. I have watched this young man who bears my last name and my hopes and dreams excel in the world of others who are part of a cadre of special people. Some may say that they are special needs, and truly I thought myself at one time that such a description was far and accurate. But I have come to understand, as a parent immersed in this world of uniquely gifted and highly valuable people, that the word special speaks far more of their character, passion, drive, joy and compassion rather than the challenges of their bodies or mind. It is a great opportunity to come to the Special Olympic Games among so many athletes who come to compete with honor and pride, knowing my son is one.

About James Hutson:I am a single father with three kids, two at home, and am proud of my association with such an organization of GREAT Olympic athletes, volunteers, staff and parents. Truly a community of exceptional compassion, pride and honor!
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August 18, 2014 | North America: New Hampshire

My children.

By T.W.

My oldest child was profoundly intellectually disabled, and he died at 10 years old. My oldest daughter was 6 at the time. When she was 10 years old, she came home crying because the meanest girl in the neighborhood had called her brother a "retard".View Story My oldest child was born handicapped. He was profoundly intellectually disabled, among a myriad of other anomalies, and he died at ten years old. My oldest daughter was 6 at the time. When she was 10 years old, she came home crying because the meanest girl in the neighborhood had called her brother a "retard". Even though we had known his diagnosis and it had never bothered us until that time. I went to that girl's house and confronted her mother. I was never so angry in my life! The mother didn't there was anything wrong with it! Needless to say, my daughter never again played with the mean girl.

About T.W.:I am the mother of three wonderful children.
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August 11, 2014 | North America: New Jersey

My Brown-Eyed Boy and his Quest for Gold

By Maria M. McQuay

Michael admiring his medal he just won!

My son decided he wanted to be a part of Team New Jersey at the USA Games. He worked hard and was selected to be on the team. I can only tell you how excited I was for my special young man.View Story My son Michael is 18 years old and has been an athlete for Special Olympics New Jersey for the past three years. He currently swims for the Jersey Hammerheads Area 5 Swim Team. When Michael began swimming for Special Olympics, he had decided he wanted to be a part of Team New Jersey at the USA Games. He would practice 4 or 5 days a week. During this time, he learned how to dive and he started to learn to swim other strokes besides freestyle and backstroke. He was focused, which is normally difficult for Michael because he has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some days were difficult but Michael persevered and would always complete his training. All of his hard work paid off and he was selected to be on the Aquatics Team for New Jersey. I can only tell you how excited I was for my special young man. Once he learned he was selected, the training only increased. He wanted to be successful. Well he was He won 2 Gold Medals, 1 Silver Medal and 1 Bronze at the USA Games. We are so proud of Michael.

About Maria M. McQuay:I am a mother of 2 children. One 18 year old who swims for the Special Olympics and my Daughter who is 12 who will be on a Unified Soccer team for the Special Olympics this year. I am also an LTP Coordinator for the Jersey Hammerheads Area 5 Swim Team. My husband Mike is the Head Coach. I guess you can say it is a Family affair. We are all involved with Special Olympics.
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August 07, 2014 | North America: Canada

Just don't use it.

By Fatou Jawara

I don't understand why people use the "R" word as a synonym for stupid or anything else flawed. It doesn't make them sound "Cool". It just makes them ignorant.View Story I don't understand why people use the "R" word as a synonym for stupid or anything else flawed. It doesn't make them sound "Cool". It just makes them ignorant. These people are completely apathetic. They don't think about the person who has an intellectual disability or knows someone that has an intellectual disability. And what grinds my gears is when people say that it's not , "offensive" or "not that serious". It is ! I'm so thankful that we have organizations like Spread The Word To End The Word that look at ending the "R" word. It makes me feel warm inside that other people have the same feelings that I have on ending the derogatory use of the "R" word. Kudos to you guys for trying to make a difference.

About Fatou Jawara :
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Special Olympics Blog

Bursting with Pride

"I’m looking forward to the day when Mary will become a Special Olympics Young Athlete. I cannot wait."read more »

Posted on 2014-07-25 by Ryan

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