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A Very Special Christmas

For over 25 years, the biggest and brightest voices in the recording industry have generously lent their time and talents to Special Olympics to create the holiday album series – A Very Special Christmas – the single most successful benefit recording in musical history.

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About Christmas Record Trust

A Very Special Christmas was founded by legendary record producer Jimmy Iovine, his then-wife Vicki and Bobby Shriver, son of Special Olympics Founder Eunice Shriver. Originally conceived as a way to pay tribute to Iovine’s late father, the idea quickly evolved to include Special Olympics athletes as the beneficiaries.

Since then, ten more A Very Special Christmas albums have been released. In 1997, the Christmas Records Trust was established to manage and distribute assets generated by A Very Special Christmas sales. The Trust, overseen by Chairman Joseph Hakim and Trustees Vicki Iovine, Ossie Kilkenny, Brian Philips, and Bobby Shriver, generated over 3 million dollars in direct support Special Olympics Programs and athletes in 2013.


Stories about the Impact of the Christmas Records Trust


June 26, 2014 | Africa: Mauritius

Mauritius’ Rodrigues Island successfully holds first coach training

By Mr Satyagan Choytun

In April, Special Olympics Mauritius used a Christmas Record grant to successfully conduct a coaches training, and an athletics and bocce competition on Rodrigues Island.View Story Sales of “A Very Special Christmas Record", a Christmas-music album, has raised more than $100 million worldwide in the last 26 years. Funds from album sales provide funding for Special Olympics programs activities in the Africa region through grants. In April, Special Olympics Mauritius used a Christmas Record grant to successfully conduct a coaches training, and an athletics and bocce competition on Rodrigues Island. The family focused event was interactive and informative, and family members gained awareness of Special Olympics and watched their children enjoy the sporting opportinties and unleash their talent. Guests of Honour, the Commissioner of Social Security, the Honourable Louis Daniel Baptiste, and the Commissioner of Health and Sports, the Honourable Ismael Vallimamode were present to witness family members, coaches and athletes benefit from these activities. Special Olympics Mauritius provided the sub program with sporting equipment to continue organizing trainings and competitions for the athletes and the newly trained coaches. Some prospective Special Olympics coaches have coaching experience; some don’t. Some have experience with individuals with intellectual disabilities, some don’t. A coach may be a teacher, family member, a volunteer from other areas of Special Olympics, or someone simply charged up to change others’ lives and their own! If you would like to volunteer please contact your local Special Olympics program. We look forward to welcoming you to the Special Olympics family.

About Mr Satyagan Choytun :Special Olympics Mauritius National Director
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June 02, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Poland

Youths receive introduction to Project Unify during Football Week in Belarus

By Krzysztof Krukowski

High school and university students volunteer during the Football Week competition in Minsk.

High school and university students came together and worked as volunteers during the Special Olympics European Football Week competition held in Minsk.View Story High school and university students came together and worked as volunteers during the Special Olympics European Football Week competition held in Minsk on 20 May 2014. The competition involved nine teams from eight cities in Belarus. In conjunction with the competition, a seminar titled “Inclusive Sports Space,” was held to introduce coaches and young volunteers to Project Unify. The Project Unify concept also was discussed at a high school and a university as well as during a sports festival at an inclusive school in Minsk. The Project Unify aspect of the competition was made possible through A Very Special Christmas Record Grant.

About Krzysztof Krukowski:Krzysztof Krukowski is Director, Organizational Development, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia and works with Special Olympics Belarus.
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June 02, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Croatia

Unified Sports and Project Unify become part of Football Week in Croatia

By Franjo Horvat

Players from mainstream and special school share trophies and smiles after the competition.

Special Olympics Croatia organized a competition for 22 teams during the Special Olympics European Football Week. Two Unified teams participated with partners from a mainstream high school.View Story Special Olympics Croatia organized a competition for 22 teams during the Special Olympics European Football Week. Two Unified teams participated with partners from mainstream high school Josip Jelačić joining Special Olympics players. The matches were held in Zaprešić and Zagreb on 22 May 2014. After the games, mainstream students, Special Olympics athletes and their teachers got together for a discussion on the benefits of Unified Sports and they were introduced to the Project Unify concept. The day’s events were made possible through A Very Special Christmas grant.

About Franjo Horvat:Franjo Horvat is National Director of Special Olympics Croatia.
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May 23, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Georgia

A First for Georgia Brings Success

By Maureen Rabbitt

Well done to the magnitude of the work done by the Organizing Committee under the leadership of National Director of SO Georgia - Zhana Gotsireli.

For the first time ever Special Olympics Georgia hosted an international football tournament for 50 female and 130 male footballers from across Europe.View Story For the first time ever Special Olympics Georgia hosted an international tournament – the 7-a-side European Football Tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia from May 15 – 18. 50 female and 130 male footballers making up 13-male teams and five female teams from across Europe traveled to Georgia to compete in the Tournament. The Georgian Football Federation, Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defense, sponsors, partners and volunteers all gave their strong backing. While the thrills of the matches were loved, participants also enjoyed a rich programme of events that was not just about football. 40 members of the military force ran a distance of 10 km carrying the Flame of Hope to the Tournament’s Opening Ceremony in Almost every one of the 180 athletes received a free dental examination at the Healthy Athletes Special Smiles clinic. Special Olympics Georgia also organised their first Project Unify event with approximately 50 Special Olympics leaders.Special Olympics Georgia is supported by an A Very Special Christmas grant.

About Maureen Rabbitt:I am responsible for Communications and Branding at SOEE.
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May 23, 2014 | Africa: Mauritius

Unified® 5-a-Side Republic Cup in Mauritius

By Mr Satyagan Choytun

Special Olympics Mauritius partnered with The Mentally Handicapped Persons Sports Federation at the MSC Stadium in Rose Hill to host a 5-a-side Unified®Soccer Republic Cup in April.View Story Special Olympics Unified® Sports offers inclusive sports for youth with and without intellectual disabilities the opportunity to train and play together as teammates. Athletes and youth develop exceptional athletic skills while forming friendships, fostering respect for each other, and becoming leaders on and off the field. Excited mother Mrs. Marie Aimee Adelaide was very impressed with the event, and the skills and sheer enjoyment shown by her daughter, Elodie. "This is a very proud moment for me, watching my daughter enjoy herself and play so well." Special Olympics Mauritius partnered with The Mentally Handicapped Persons Sports Federation at the MSC Stadium in Rose Hill to host a 5-a-side Unified®Soccer Republic Cup in April. A total of 90 athletes both male and female from 3 different Special Schools and 2 Foundations participated in the event. The Laventure Technical School for The Disabled, The Centre L’Education et les Progress des EnfantsHandicapes, The Ruth School, The Eastern Welfare Association for the Disabled and The Children’s Foundation were present. The athletes were welcomed by Special Olympics Mauritius National Director, Mr. Satyagan Choytun, and Board Chair, Mr. Jean Marie Malepa. The event was well supported by family members, members of the Mentally Handicapped Persons of Sports Federation, and the public. Special Olympics Mauritius is supported by an A Very Special Christmas grant.

About Mr Satyagan Choytun :I work for Special Olympics Mauritius as the National Director
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May 23, 2014 | Asia Pacific: Pakistan

Transforming Lives

By Lubna Nawaz

Haseeb with maam Ronak lakkani.

With the help of a Special Olympics volunteer in Pakistan, the mother of a boy with autism discovered how to make a closer bond at the same time he found growing confidence through a series of small successes.View Story This is the story of a 15-year-old boy with autism, Muhammad Haseeb Abbasi. Haseeb played bocce for Special Olympics in Pakistan. He represented Pakistan in the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games in Australia in December 2013, where he won three gold medals. Haseeb was diagnosed with autism at the age of twelve years by Dr Catherine Aldred PhD. during our visit to to the United Kingdom. Prior to this all our efforts for the diagnosis of our children (we have two boys, and both of them are autistic) within Pakistan were in vain. Some of the symptoms were identifiable as early as 2 years and till 8 and half years, he was nonverbal. He attended a regular school till class 7 but the problem was his communication with the fellow students and teachers. He was noncommunicative, always wanted to sit alone in the class, never participated in any of the activities, obsessively lining up his toys in perfectly straight lines with no eye contact with anyone. And so things were becoming difficult not only for him but for me also. I feared that I may never have a close relationship with my son, I didn’t know how to reach him and at times I felt helpless. Autism was a new term for us in Pakistan, and we knew very little about it. Presently there are hardly any specialist services or schools available for autistic individuals. The majority of the parents therefore are on their own. Fortunately for me, with the help and motivation of a local Special Olympics coach, Mrs.Irfana Kayyani, I was introduced to the Special Olympics Pakistan Program. Now, I am a volunteer for Special Olympics Pakistan. Special Olympics has changed Haseeb completely. It has instilled in him a desire to improve, to listen and to learn. Each small success has built his self confidence. Yes, Special Olympics Pakistan has taught him a lot, much more than I can ever imagine for him. Haseeb has now transformed into a confident individual who can hold conversations with strangers.Special Olympics Pakistan is supported by an A Very Special Christmas grant.

About Lubna Nawaz:My name is Lubna Nawaz.  I am mother of Haseeb and now part of Family Support Network Special Olympics Pakistan.
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May 23, 2014 | Africa: Kenya

Kenya picks "The Home of Champions" for training and competition

By Mr John Makathimo

Special Olympics constantly strives to provide training for athletes and coaches in various skills that will enable the growth and development of both the individuals and the program.View Story Special Olympics constantly strives to provide training for athletes and coaches in various skills that will enable the growth and development of both the individuals and the program. Iten, Kenya, is known as,” The home of champions”, because of the community's athletic dominance in world short and long distance races. Today, Iten is the preferred high altitude training location for athletes from all over the world. This town helped host the Special Olympics Kenya athletes, mentors and coaches for training and competition. A total of 20 coaches, 18 mentors and 17 coaches participated. This event was sponsored by the Elgeyo Government and Minister of Sports, the Honorable Shandrack Yatich, who also participated in the parade at the competitions. The newly trained athletes, coaches and mentors put their skills to use by running their first ever Unified® Sports advancement football match. This competition was a qualifier for the county to select athletes that will represent the region at the Special Olympics Kenya National Games in which 25 athletes advance during the month of June. Special Olympics Unified Sports® joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. Special Olympics Kenya is supported by an A Very Special Christmas grant.

About Mr John Makathimo:I work for Special Olympics Kenya as a National Director
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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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