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Special Olympics is a global organization that serves athletes with intellectual disabilities working with hundreds of thousands of volunteers and coaches each year. Since the establishment of Special Olympics in 1968, the number of people with and without intellectual disabilities who are involved with the organization has been growing, but the unmet need to reach more people with intellectual disabilities is staggering.

The Power of Sport.  For every Special Olympics athlete, there are many more waiting for their chance.   Download Program Fact Sheet

It’s at the local level--right here--where interested volunteers meet the athletes. That’s where the perceptions start to change and where the miracle of transformation takes place. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Those activities give them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship.

Sports Offered

  • Alpine Skiing
  • Aquatics
  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Bocce
  • Bowling
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Equestrian
  • Flag Football
  • Floor Hockey
  • Football (Soccer)
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics (Artistic)
  • Powerlifting
  • Roller Skating
  • Snow Shoeing
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

News and Stories


March 12, 2017 | North America: Nebraska

An Athlete Leader and An Athlete Health Leader

By Jason Gieschen

“Special Olympics has helped me overcome my biggest challenge of being told that I cannot do anything and that I cannot be independent. You can achieve anything you set your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it! Special Olympics is changing my life,” says Jason.

As a Global Messenger and leader, I am excited to share a positive message about health to my teammates and the world.View Story As a Global Messenger and leader, I am excited to share a positive message about health to my teammates and the world. Special Olympics offers more than just sports. Special Olympics offers Healthy Athletes, which are health exams that are free to the athletes in seven different areas. Six years ago, Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes discovered a cyst on my eye. I had eye surgery and it saved the sight in that eye. I got new sports glasses too. Also, Dr. Westerman, my local clinical director in Nebraska, told me I needed to get my wisdom teeth pulled. Wisdom teeth don’t make you smart—they just make your jaw hurt. Healthy Habits has helped me to eat the right foods and to drink water instead of pop. I lost 100 pounds. Playing sports has helped too!

About Jason Gieschen:Jason Gieschen, a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger, has participated in Special Olympics since the age of 14 after being encouraged by his High School principal to attend a local bowling practice and from there on, he has been actively engaged in 11 different sports. In his role as an International Global Messenger, he discusses the role of health in his life. He will also be traveling to Austria for the 2017 World Winter Games and to Seattle, Washington, in 2018 for Special Olympics USA Games. Jason also attended the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles. In addition to his role as an International Global Messenger and Special Olympics athlete leader, Jason leads a very active life outside of sports and is able to make friends wherever he goes. He works full time at an Educational Service Unit as a Documentation coordinator and is an active public speaker when he is not at work. He is also a talented photographer with a keen eye for taking capturing landscape pictures. Jason
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March 04, 2016 | North America: Nebraska

Leave her alone

By Jordan

My aunt and uncle were in the process of adopting my now-cousin. She is mentally challenged and blind. When my dad was telling me about my new cousin he used the r-word to describe her.View Story My aunt and uncle were in the process of adopting my now-cousin. She is mentally challenged and blind. When my dad was telling me about my new cousin he used the r-word to describe her. At the time I was in middle-school and even then I knew that wasn't the word to use. I tried to stand up to my dad telling him it wasn't a nice word, his response was "but that's what she is." How do you fight your dad? Especially when you so very rarely see him. He's wrong and since he doesn't want to change I can't keep someone like him in my life or the life of my cousin who has come such a long way since her adoption and she learns and grows more every time I see her. I love you, Geri.

About Jordan :
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September 03, 2015 | North America: Nebraska

My Jordan

By Carla Joos

Jordan was born in 1987. He was 6 when he died. He had developmental delays but he taught such great things. His love was one of an angel, he didn't know hate.View Story Jordan was born in 1987. He was 6 when he died. He had developmental delays but he taught such great things. His love was one of an angel, he didn't know hate. All the pokes and sticks by nurses, yet they got big smiles. Jordan has a big brother,Nathan. He's a great kid. He loves his brother. But one day walking home from school Nate was followed by a group of boys. Those boys were yelling. "You're a Retard, because your brothers a Retard." And they were screaming it at Nate over and over again. Until I stepped out to say. "Who told you his brother was a retard?" Because Jordan had not come home from the hospital since the day he was born. He was 3 at this time. "Our parents told us." Answered one of the boys. I told them "Go back & tell your parents God gave me an angel on earth, If they have the nerve to call an Angel a Retard come down here and do it!" After that day the R word has never been allowed in my home. I was so happy when this Pledge was started. Thank you.

About Carla Joos:I'm now a grandma, breast cancer survivor, i have been married 33 years to a firefighter, my oldest son Nate become a firefighter is married with a boy and girl. Youngest son is 23. He is at LSU.
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2014 USA Games

The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games ran June 14-21. See results and stories.

Sep 21 - 23 2012 SONA Softball Invitational Tournament Oklahoma City, OK
Sep 11 - 17 2012 World Aquatics Invitational 2012 San Juan, Puerto Rico
Jun 25 - Jul 4 2011 2011 Summer Games Athens, Greece

Areas Served

Adams County, Antelope County, Arthur County, Banner County, Blaine County, Boone County, Box Butte County, Boyd County, Brown County, Buffalo County, Burt County, Butler County, Cass County, Cedar County, Chase County, Cherry County, Cheyenne County, Clay County, Colfax County, Cuming County, Custer County, Dakota County, Dawes County, Dawson County, Deuel County, Dixon County, Dodge County, Douglas County, Dundy County, Fillmore County, Franklin County, Frontier County, Furnas County, Gage County, Garden County, Garfield County, Gosper County, Grant County, Greeley County, Hall County, Hamilton County, Harlan County, Hayes County, Hitchcock County, Holt County, Hooker County, Howard County, Jefferson County, Johnson County, Kearney County, Keith County, Keya Paha County, Kimball County, Knox County, Lancaster County, Lincoln County, Logan County, Loup County, Madison County, McPherson County, Merrick County, Morrill County, Nance County, Nemaha County, Nuckolls County, Otoe County, Pawnee County, Perkins County, Phelps County, Pierce County, Platte County, Polk County, Red Willow County, Richardson County, Rock County, Saline County, Sarpy County, Saunders County, Scotts Bluff County, Seward County, Sheridan County, Sherman County, Sioux County, Stanton County, Thayer County, Thomas County, Thurston County, Valley County, Washington County, Wayne County, Webster County, Wheeler County, York County