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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


March 05, 2015 | North America: New York

our 12 yr old son

By Lori

Our son has autism and it hasnt been easy for him in school with making friends or being understood i hate the R word and my other children aren't allowed to say it.View Story Our son has autism and it hasnt been easy for him in school with making friends or being understood i hate the R word and my other children aren't allowed to say it.

About Lori:I'm a mother speaking out for our child
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Oklahoma

Our Greatest Blessing

By Peggy Ricketts

Jackson , our 3rd grandson was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after his birth, he is the most beautiful , loving , little guy on this earth. His smile lights up the room and his words, though not many, fill your heart with joy.View Story Jackson , our 3rd grandson was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after his birth, he is the most beautiful , loving , little guy on this earth. His smile lights up the room and his words, though not many, fill your heart with joy. He is an active 7 year old . Faced with many challenges Jackson has shown us the real meaning of Love and determination. He never gives up and shows this with his continued successes. My son and daughter in law are also parents of a set of twin boys , they are Super Mom and Dad in our books and Jacksons'. His special needs have truly taught us the true meaning of "Our Greatest Blessing". A grand child is a true blessing from God. Love doesn't start with "R"

About Peggy Ricketts:61 yr old grand mother of 8 ( 3 boys & 5 girls ).,. mother of 2 biological sons and 4 adopted children (2 deceased)married 42 years . Married 42 years
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Massachusetts

Don't judge a book by its cover

By Debra Nettles

My daughter is a beautiful young girl. She does not LOOK like she has a disability but at 11 she is far behind her peers intellectually and in maturity. My heart breaks when I hear children AND adults that do not know her being rude or insulting towards her.View Story My daughter is a beautiful young girl. She does not LOOK like she has a disability but at 11 she is far behind her peers intellectually and in maturity. My heart breaks when I hear children AND adults that do not know her being rude or insulting towards her. You may not always know what is going on in other families, their struggles, their worries, their sacrifices. Sometimes people tend keep these problems secret from the world. In the past, I admit I did this. I hid my feelings and refrained from public events for fear of embarrassment. I have changed. My daughter has shown ME to be a more open-minded individual. She has shown me to not pass judgement. If a person is behaving "odd" or a cashier is not very pleasant -- I stop and think "I don't know their life or their troubles". So instead of responding negatively, I treat them warmly, with respect and a smile and hopefully they will do so in turn. I thank my daughter for helping ME to not "judge a book it's cover".

About Debra Nettles:I am a mother of three. My middle child has intellectual disabilities and I am her greatest advocate!
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Indiana

Our daughter

By Nancy Crawford

Our adult daughter, with special needs, becomes extremely upset when someone uses the R-word. The word is often used by teens when referring to one of their friends.View Story Our adult daughter, with special needs, becomes extremely upset when someone uses the R-word. The word is often used by teens when referring to one of their friends. When you hear the word tell them you know someone who it would offend. Our amazing daughter never calls people names. Only proves she is a better person than most.

About Nancy Crawford:I am Nancy Crawford, proud parent of talented Special Olympics athlete Katie Crawford.
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March 05, 2015 | Why I Support Special Olympics

My brother isn't "stupid" he's SPECIAL

By Ruth

My brother is in Special Olympics. I go to cheer him on and meet new athletes. but when someone in my class says the "R" word, I go stiff. I hear it from the same person in my class. He uses it in every other sentence. I've told him off one too many times.View Story My brother is in Special Olympics. I go to cheer him on and meet new athletes. but when someone in my class says the "R" word, I go stiff. I hear it from the same person in my class. He uses it in every other sentence. I've told him off one too many times. Next time, I won't use words. I made posters and I'm going to my principle to hang them up. I don't care if he says no. It is for a good cause. I'll do it anyway. When people say that word it makes me want to punch them. I don't care what they use as an excuse. THERE IS NO EXCUSE!!! I will hang those posters. I will spread the word to end the word. One step at a time.

About Ruth :i am the little sister of a wonderful brother who has down-syndrome and autism. he is just like everyone else. i work hard at my school to defend the "special" kids. i say special, because they are.
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Michigan

My Four

By Ali H

The R-Word reduces the purpose and value of those with special needs in the eyes of the community. I stood behind the removal of the word before I had children, but especially now that they are here.View Story The R-Word reduces the purpose and value of those with special needs in the eyes of the community. I stood behind the removal of the word before I had children, but especially now that they are here. My boys, (now 3 and 6), were born with Autism. They were Non-Verbal, severely internalized, stim-focused, and extremely vulnerable to sensory. My oldest daughter had a speech delay that is now reversed. She was non-verbal until the age of two. My youngest daughter has Downs syndrome and severe physical developmental delay due to extensive hospital stays. She is currently non-verbal with emerging speech. These beautiful, intelligent, funny, and wonderful human beings are not a label. They are not a statistic. They are people. They deserve better than the R-word. Choose your words wisely.

About Ali H:I am a mother of four beautiful children. A wife of an amazing husband. A resident of a community that has shown wonderful support towards our family!
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Arkansas

R Word

By Melba

My Uncle was a challenged man. We were not supposed to the R word by itself but it was considered ok to say MENTALLY R word. He could juggle play piano guitar all by ear & was not taught.View Story My Uncle was a challenged man. We were not supposed to the R word by itself but it was considered ok to say MENTALLY R word. He could juggle play piano guitar all by ear & was not taught.

About Melba:I'm 62 I didnt know I was affected by my Uncle's condition i asked my mother why the mentally challenged were attracted to me She said I look at them why a kind pity in my eyes.
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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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