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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


November 15, 2014 | North America: Tennessee

My brother and uncles

By Shannon Odom

My family hates this word. They are not the r word. Just different, we all are. We can't help the way we are born we are all special and smart in our own way.View Story My brother was born with a split lip and was called the r word amongst other bad words. My uncles are somewhat mentally handicapped also and we're called the same. My family hates this word. They are not the r word. Just different, we all are. We can't help the way we are born we are all special and smart in our own way. GOD made us who we are, and everyone should respect that. I love the story you boys made. Always protect your family.

About Shannon Odom :I am a mother of two. And a sibling with 4 brothers. I have been married for 20 years. I am also very active in our church my husband is a minister and we all do music.
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November 13, 2014 | North America: Wisconsin

Today my 12 year old son had his sister called the R-word

By Dan's proud mom

Parent teacher conferences today and the teacher shared a story that happened this afternoon. A classmate of my 6th grader, Daniel, called our daughter, Gemma, who has Down syndrome, the horrible, hurtful word.View Story Parent teacher conferences today and the teacher shared a story that happened this afternoon. A classmate of my 6th grader, Daniel, called our daughter, Gemma, who has Down syndrome, the horrible, hurtful word. My son reacted by defending her and admonishing the word. It did not go well, but the teacher supported Daniel and reported that the child's parents were informed and they were very embarrassed. Daniel stayed strong, until we got home. It is extremely painful to have these lovely people called horrible names. We talked it over and cried together and vowed to spread the word to end the word. It is a daily battle. I just ordered him a t-shirt and a bracelet--it can't get here soon enough! Thank you for keeping us strong!

About Dan's proud mom:I am a mom blessed with 2 wonderful, happy, loving children. One of them has an extra chromosome, but the only things I count are my blessings.
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November 13, 2014 | North America: Ohio

Respect for my sister

By Michael Meyer

I'm constantly asking friends and family to stop using the r-word around me... and actually some of my closest friends and family quit using all together and preached it with there family and friends.View Story I'm constantly asking friends and family to stop using the r-word around me... and actually some of my closest friends and family quit using all together and preached it with there family and friends.

About Michael Meyer :My sister has down syndrome and I'm fighting for her rights as we speak. I love me sister with everything I have and would love to start something here in my home town.
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November 13, 2014 | North America: Missouri

I Love My Sister!

By Lori Hemphill

Lunch after one of her doctors appointments

I have a sister that was born with hydrocephalus! She is the most loving and caring person ever. I completely despise the r word. I get on to everyone I hear say it.View Story I have a sister that was born with hydrocephalus! She is the most loving and caring person ever. I completely despise the r word. I get on to everyone I hear say it. I also work at a daycare and care for a precious boy with Down syndrome. I love every kid with special needs!! People that use that word need a lot of help.

About Lori Hemphill:I am a sister and a care giver of special needs kids and they are the best people I have in my life!
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November 13, 2014 | North America: Southern California

It's time to put an end to the R word

By Jen Julien

I have a little brother named Jack who's almost 8 years old. He was born having Down syndrome. The day he was born changed my life completely, I've never loved anyone like the way I love this boy!!View Story Hi, my name is Jen, I'm 38 yrs old & I have a little brother named Jack who's almost 8 years old. He was born having Down syndrome. The day he was born changed my life completely, I've never loved anyone like the way I love this boy!! He's an amazing little fighter & he's so smart & funny! The sweetest guy ever & he has the most beautiful smile & eyes you've ever seen. When I was young & dumb I used the R word a lot. But that changed the day Jack was born. I vowed to never use that dirty word every again & I haven't. My friends know how I feel about this word & they don't use it around me because they know how upset I can get. Some have vowed not to use the word period. I try & teach my friends about people with disabilities & educate them on things they know nothing about. I am totally on board to end the "R" word & I'm spreading the message to everyone. Peace & love to all.

About Jen Julien :
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November 13, 2014 | North America: Connecticut

My Cousin and Best Friend

By Mary

My cousin is sarcastic and funny, and unabashedly boy crazy. She has the "St. Francis" touch-the meanest and most persnickity animals will let her hold her and cuddle them. And my cousin also has special needs. But so what?View Story I want to tell you about my cousin. She and her mom have shared a house with my family since before I was born. My cousin is sarcastic and funny, and unabashedly boy crazy. She has the "St. Francis" touch-the meanest and most persnickity animals will let her hold her and cuddle them. Yet she also has a temper and there are definitely lines you don't cross. She's the best person I know. I love her like a sister, And my cousin also has special needs. But so what? She's vibrant, fun, a great person, and a blessing to all who know her. So when you decide to call someone the r-word, please keep in mind that you insult real people,just like you. Stop treating ppl like an abstract medical term. They have good times and bad times and family that loves them-How are they so different from you?

About Mary:
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November 13, 2014 | North America: Texas

Autism

By Barbara

I have two grandsons (brothers) diagnosed with full-blown autism and one grandson (their cousin) with Asperger's. I work in a school lunchroom and have the privilege of serving the special needs classes.View Story I have two grandsons (brothers) diagnosed with full-blown autism and one grandson (their cousin) with Asperger's. I work in a school lunchroom and have the privilege of serving the special needs classes. EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect, we are all members of the HUMAN race. I have seen the hurt caused when one of my grandsons is called retarded. They are extremely smart and creative, they just have a different way of expressing it. There are children at my school with Down syndrome, they are kind, caring people. I felt honored when one of our children with sever autism opened up, smiled at me and thanked me. Mind you, this is a child that does not open up easily. If you treat people with respect, you will get respect back. I know the special needs kids at my school are making a difference in MY life and I thank them for that!

About Barbara:I am a mother, grandmother and lunch lady
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Special Olympics Blog

Sport and Tech Team Up for Good

Now, thanks to Microsoft, athletes, coaches and families will have rapid access to useful information about their scores, times, personal bests, fitness and health. Special Olympics can use this capability to dramatically improve the lives of people in our Movement.  read more »

Posted on 2014-10-27 by Janet

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