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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


May 18, 2015 | North America: Southern California

Team Jeremai

By Nancy Vicario (mom)

Jeremai Noe Vicario

Jeremai Noe Vicario was born on December 14, 2002. The moment he came into this world, he astounded the doctors with his will to live. They felt his fragile heart would not last longer than 2 days.View Story Jeremai Noe Vicario was born on December 14, 2002. The moment he came into this world, he astounded the doctors with his will to live. They felt his fragile heart would not last longer than 2 days. He proved them wrong. That seemed to become the motto of his life. If you told him “no” he could charm you into a “yes”. If you said he couldn’t, he showed you just how much he could! Jeremai had a world to explore if only for a brief time. Through further exploration,Jeremai learned to love music, dogs, books, and his toys. His adventurous side yearned for the outdoors to cruise in his little toy car. This little guy had such a happy disposition. His smile was contagious! And, he was always ready to strike a pose for a picture. Jeremai was clearly loved by his family and friends across several states. In his 3 short years on earth, he has touched the hearts of countless people. He became a hero to all of us. Jeremai will be remembered for his strength, resilience, and endearing smile Although Jeremai was never able to participate in the Special Olympics we as a family are very proud to participate in the Bull Canyon Run every year. We are honored to be able to help raise funds for other to participate in the Special Olympics. We know that Jeremai would have absolutely loved to have been one of the participants of these events..

About Nancy Vicario (mom):I know that Jeremai would have been very proud of his family in seeing the support that is give to Special Olympics events. No matter in which capacity you are able to help every bit goes a long way. Thank you to all that have represented Team Jeremai in one way or another and helped raise awareness of Special Olympics. Go TEAM JEREMAI!
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May 12, 2015 | North America: Southern California

Regrets

By Sami Turnbull

My son the advocate.

One of my goals as a parent is to teach my children to live life with no regrets. There are no do overs only second chances. I am taking my second chance and trying to make up for the lack of compassion and jokes I have made going all the way into my 20's. How many parents or family members heardView Story One of my goals as a parent is to teach my children to live life with no regrets. There are no do-overs, only second chances. I am taking my second chance and trying to make up for the lack of compassion and jokes I have made going all the way into my 20's. How many parents or family members heard one of my jokes that had a friend, child, parent with special needs? I am sure I have hurt people by jokes I have made. How do I know? I have an 11-year-old daughter who is Intellectually Disabled and every time I hear the "Retarded" word used as a slur it rips my gut out. My daughter is better than what they are calling "retarded." Like I said, I could never redo what I have done in the past but I can make up for the future by teaching my children my mistakes and helping others understand the debt of the hurt it causes when used.

About Sami Turnbull:I am the mother to two beautiful children. My daughter, Emma, is 11 and was diagnosed as Intellectually Disabled about 3 years ago. My son, Tyler, is 10 and is Emma's biggest advocate.
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May 12, 2015 | North America: Missouri

The Power of the R-Word

By Taylor

In day to day life, using the r-word is something that you use without thought. By using it to describe an outfit, stranger, or friend I never knew how much I used the word until a peer came up to me and asked me a question. "Why do they call me names like retard? I don't understand."View Story In day to day life, using the r-word is something that you use without thought. By using it to describe an outfit, stranger, or friend I never knew how much I used the word until a peer came up to me and asked me a question. "Why do they call me names like retard? I don't understand." Now let me tell you a little about her. This person was someone that everyone seemed to avoid or didn't talk to, but talked about. When I tell you that I felt so bad that I used that word to describe her, I felt SO bad! I didn't even know what to say. The feeling of her consulting in me when she could have gone to the teacher or family member is still beyond me. I could only say, "That is something beyond me, but I promise I'll get to the bottom of it." I did too. I thought about it all day, week, and still to today about why out of everyone, that she was picked on so much. Something made me so aware of this word that I had to share. This girl was different, and being different isn't retarded. Thank you.

About Taylor:I was brought to this website and cause by being a participate in pageants. The reigning queen has this cause as her platform, or something she promotes. I decided to take the pledge!!!
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April 27, 2015 | North America: Canada

Blinders Off: A Sister's Love

By Whitney Easton

I never really worried about people using the r-word before. Having a sister with special needs, I rarely used the term myself but I didn't want to be that girl making everyone else in the room uncomfortable.View Story I never really worried about people using the r-word before. Having a sister with special needs, I rarely used the term myself but I didn't want to be that girl making everyone else in the room uncomfortable if they accident used it, because they knew about my sister, so I just put my blinders on and let it go. It took a couple of years of maturing to realize how important it is for me to stand up to people who choose to use this hurtful and inconsiderate term. If I am willing to do anything for my sister, including lay down my own life, then why can't I correct people when they use a term that systematically excludes and degrades her. Taking this pledge is a small but important first step in my quest to aid and support the goal of eradicating the use of the r-word. Blinders off!

About Whitney Easton:I am a Full Time House Parent at the Canadian International Hockey Academy, in Rockland, Ontario. I have a degree in English, Canadian History and Education. I hope to become a Special Needs Educator.
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April 27, 2015 | North America: Northern California

#Respect

By Daisy

I have friends who still use the R-word sometimes and it bothers me, not because I think of my son as being the R-word but because not only is it incorrect terminology but it is used as an insult. Since when does being delayed become an insult.View Story My son has an undiagnosed disorder of the nervous system, even though he is not diagnosed for his condition he has been diagnosed as having global developmental delay. This means he is delayed in all aspects (cognitive, emotional, motor, etc.). I have friends who still use the R-word sometimes and it bothers me, not because I think of my son as being the R-word but because not only is it incorrect terminology but it is used as an insult. Since when does being delayed become an insult. It's a blessing! I have learned to appreciate all of the little things he learns that others take for granted. I spread the word and tell people not to use that word not only because it offends be but because it offends every family who has a special needs child. Spread the word! Respect is the way to go!

About Daisy:First I am a mother, then I am a student working on my medical coding certificate. I love spending time with my son, I love reading and I am a movie addict. Everything I do is for my son.
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April 27, 2015 | North America: Washington

Lessons From Special Sisters

By Brian Giboney

Jordan Spieth is wise on and off the golf course well beyond his years. Good genetics? Perhaps, but the more likely reason is the real world lessons Jordan learned at a young age by having such a special sister in Ellie.View Story Listening to the newly crowned Masters Champion speak is an odd occurrence. If you close your eyes and just listen to Jordan Spieth talk you will think he is a well seasoned 31 year old professional rather than the mere 21 years he has lived. He is wise on and off the golf course well beyond his years. Good genetics? Perhaps, but the more likely reason is the real world lessons Jordan learned at a young age by having such a special sister in Ellie. Some of these worldly lessons can be rather harsh too. Having grown up with a younger special needs sister, I can attest to receiving “the look” while out in public. My sister Jenny was born with Spina Bifida six years after me. She was born paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a life in a wheel chair around the house and leg braces with crutches while in public. Around the time I was 9 or 10 years of age it became apparent people were not comfortable with my sister. While Jenny was perfectly normal in our eyes, she wasn’t normal in their eyes. The looks and stares often felt like people wondered what planet my sister came from. Then there were the actual questions we had to answer: “What is wrong with her?” “What does she have?” One man who lived down the street in our Seattle area neighborhood had the audacity to ask: “When is she going to get better?” to which we had to disclose the answer “never.” Much like the Spieth’s, our hope was people like this particular neighbor would just love Jenny unconditionally as we did. Don’t stare - just say hello like you would to any other person.You can read the rest of this story at the link below.

About Brian Giboney:About the Author: Brian Giboney has been a freelance contributor to Parachutist magazine since 1999 and is now doing freelance for Inside Golf Newspaper, and other golf publications. Brian has played more than 250 golf courses in the State of Washington, carries a low single digit handicap in modern play, has broke 80 several times in hickory golf play, and has made over 1,000 skydives as well.
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April 22, 2015 | North America: Ohio

Bye Bye to the R word

By Madelyn

My brother and cousin both have Down Syndrome and they both have the biggest hearts. It truly makes me upset when I hear people using the R-word and them not even being bothered when saying it.View Story My brother and cousin both have Down Syndrome and they both have the biggest hearts. It truly makes me upset when I hear people using the R-word and them not even being bothered when saying it. Whenever I hear someone say the word, I correct them right after and help make them realize how offending it is to others. I started talking to a guy about 3 months ago and he used the word all the time. I have told him many times how offending that word is and how he should really stop saying it. The other night one we were all out with a group of friends and of his buddies said the R-word. Before I could even say anything he looked to his buddy and told him to never say that word and explained to him how offending the word truly is. It was amazing seeing him spreading the word to end the word!!

About Madelyn:19 year old from BGSU
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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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