Help us make a difference!


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 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.
Share
View less ▲

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.
Share
View less ▲

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.
Share
View less ▲

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
Share
View less ▲

April 22, 2015 | North America: New York

Love Knows No Limits

By Karen O

I grew up with my uncle who had Down syndrome & my brother Jon who developed cerebral palsy shortly after birth. This was the 1960's, so Jon ended up in an institution at age 4.View Story I grew up with my uncle who had Down syndrome & my brother Jon who developed cerebral palsy shortly after birth. This was the 1960's, so Jon ended up in an institution at age 4. Sadly, he never again lived with our family & I didn't see him for a number of years. I began searching for him after my friend, who had a heart for people with disabilities, encouraged me to. She treated her friends with disabilities like all the rest of her friends and I was able to find a kind social worker ( I knew my brother was living in my area ); she set up a meeting at a local bagel shop. Apparently when she asked him about meeting me after probably ten years apart, he responded with an enthusiastic "yes!". He didn't know we'd be meeting that day & when he was brought in the shop, he called out my name and rushed over for a big hug. Since that day in 1985, we meet up once a month or so to visit & do things together. We have Jon overnight on his birthday every year and just enjoy our relationship.

About Karen O:Retired nurse
Share
View less ▲

April 21, 2015 | North America: Ohio

Too many years I lived with the r-word.

By Samantha Shanti

At age 8, I couldn't read or write at all, and people could not/would not understand how I was different and support my needs and desire to grow. Lots of testing and then the news: I was mentally retarded.View Story At age 8, I couldn't read or write at all, and people could not/would not understand how I was different and support my needs and desire to grow. Lots of testing and then the news: I was mentally retarded. It was a diagnosis then, and it was applied to me. From that point on my father called me 'The retard' and it hurt. Momma loved me and helped me learn and grow the way she did. Wasn't until I was 48 years old that I found out that Autism is what I live with. I'm autistic, not "retarded" and yes I'm different, but I'm no less a person than anyone else. So this campaign has real meaning to me.

About Samantha Shanti:50 year old Autistic woman, wife, widow, girlfriend. I've lived a heck of a life overshadowed by the r-word. Finally I'm free.
Share
View less ▲

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 :)
Share
View less ▲

Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Make a holiday donation in honor of loved ones.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 226 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Our Supporters

MicrosoftRevolutionizing information systems that power our games.Learn more »


Our Supporters

Toys“R”UsHelping children of all abilities experience #MyFirstSportsMomentLearn More »


Our Supporters

The Christmas Records TrustFunding Special Olympics work worldwide.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Annenberg FoundationSupports our goals for coaches’ excellence.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Bank of AmericaProud partner of Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Coca-ColaSpecial Olympics Founding Partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

ESPNGlobal Presenting Sponsor of Unified Sports®.Learn More »


Our Supporters

EssilorOfficial global supplier of ophthalmic lenses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

AIPSGlobal Impact Partner for Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Lions ClubSupports access to quality eye care.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MattelSupports Special Olympics Youth Programs.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MTM RecognitionSupplier of awards and medals for our athletes.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Perfect Sense DigitalSpecial Olympics' leading digital partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Procter & GambleCelebrating over 30 years of partnership with Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SafewayRaises funds and awareness for people with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SàfiloSupplies optical frames and sunglasses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

UNICEFProvides greater inclusion of children with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Y&RPowering our global youth marketing campaign.Learn more »


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. 

read more »

Posted on 2015-03-11 by Tim

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan