North Carolina

Special Olympics is a global organization that serves more than 4 million 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.  Help us reach one more person who wants to participate. 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.

Founded in 1971, Special Olympics North Carolina provides services and opportunities to more than 38,000 athletes, supported by nearly 5,000 volunteer coaches, and we host nearly 600 competitions annually.

Through sports, health, education and community programming, Special Olympics is tackling inactivity, intolerance, isolation and injustice that people with intellectual disabilities throughout the world face. In addition to sports, our programmatic offerings currently include: Athlete Leadership Programs, Healthy Athletes, Healthy Communities, Young Athletes Program, Project UNIFY, Special Olympics Unified Sports, and NC Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Sports Offered

  •  Alpine Skiing
  • Aquatics
  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Bocce
  • Bowling
  • Cheerleading
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian
  • Figure Skating
  • Football (Soccer)
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Motor Activity Training Program
  • Powerlifting
  • Roller Skating
  • Snowboarding
  • Softball
  • Speed Skating
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

News and Stories


January 08, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Tar Heells JV Team Scrimmages Special Olympics NC Athletes

By Megan ODonnell

UNC JV basketball player tries to defend Special Olympics Orange Cty player in a Unified scrimmage.

Special Olympics NC arranged for a unique opportunity for some Special Olympics Orange County (Chapel Hill) athletes on Jan. 5, 2015. The Special Olympics Orange County Bulls Basketball Team went to the Dean Smith Center and scrimmaged the UNC Tar Heels Men’s JV Team.View Story Special Olympics NC arranged for a unique opportunity for some Special Olympics Orange County (Chapel Hill) athletes on Jan. 5, 2015. The Special Olympics Orange County Bulls Basketball Team went to the Dean Smith Center and scrimmaged the UNC Tar Heels Men’s JV Team. The Bulls were treated to their own locker room in the Smith Center upon arrival and this certainly helped make the afternoon one to remember! For the first 20 minutes, the two teams scrimmaged each other and the game was quite close! At half time, the two teams intermixed with each other creating Unified Teams and then played another 20 minutes. The game was incredibly close with one team winning by 1 point. A great time was had all the players! They were equally impressed with each other’s skill set and shooting prowess. Some of the UNC Men’s “Varsity” team came out to watch the game and too!! There was a lot of cheering going on by all involved!

About Megan ODonnell:VP of communications for Special Olympics North Carolina
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January 08, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Matt Paoletti of Buncombe County – 2015 Special Olympics North Carolina January “Athlete of the Month”

By Nidhi Singh

Matt Paoletti, 2015 SO North Carolina January "Athlete of the Month"

Matt Paoletti is one busy guy. From participating in Special Olympics Buncombe County to acting in a local theater and volunteering around his community, the Asheville resident truly enjoys staying active.View Story Matt Paoletti is one busy guy. From participating in Special Olympics Buncombe County to acting in a local theater and volunteering around his community, the Asheville resident truly enjoys staying active. “Being this active gives him a chance to be included and show others that there is more to someone with developmental disabilities than what is portrayed,” his mother, Susan Paoletti, said.

About Nidhi Singh:I am the Communications Intern for Special Olympics North Carolina. I enjoyed learning about Matt and how he tries to stay active throughout the year. He is an inspiration to many!
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January 08, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Intern Making a Impact

By Kelly Moore

Kelley Moore, senior at Belmont Abbey College, proud to be a SONC soccer head coach in Mecklenburg County.

Without any prior experience of interacting with people who have intellectual disabilities, I randomly decided I wanted to volunteer with Special Olympics in 2011.View Story Without any prior experience of interacting with people who have intellectual disabilities, I randomly decided I wanted to volunteer with Special Olympics in 2011. I was a freshman at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC when I emailed the local coordinator for Special Olympics Mecklenburg County and asked if the soccer team needed some volunteers for that fall season. Before I knew it, I was spending every fall Saturday morning of my college career at the soccer field with the Special Olympics athletes. In my first year, I contributed as just a volunteer. For the next year, I assumed the vacant role of head coach, and maintained that position for the past three years. When I finished this last season as head coach for the Mecklenburg County soccer team, one of my athletes made me realize just how special our time together really was when he said, “You know, our soccer team, we’re like a family.”

About Kelly Moore:I've been a coach with Special Olympic athletes in Mecklenburg County and I have loved every minute of it!
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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

Alamance County, Alexander County, Alleghany County, Anson County, Ashe County, Avery County, Beaufort County, Bertie County, Bladen County, Brunswick County, Buncombe County, Burke County, Cabarrus County, Caldwell County, Camden County, Carteret County, Caswell County, Catawba County, Chatham County, Cherokee County, Chowan County, Clay County, Cleveland County, Columbus County, Craven County, Cumberland County, Currituck County, Dare County, Davidson County, Davie County, Duplin County, Durham County, Edgecombe County, Forsyth County, Franklin County, Gaston County, Gates County, Graham County, Granville County, Greene County, Guilford County, Halifax County, Harnett County, Haywood County, Henderson County, Hertford County, Hoke County, Hyde County, Iredell County, Jackson County, Johnston County, Jones County, Lee County, Lenoir County, Lincoln County, Macon County, Madison County, Martin County, McDowell County, Mecklenburg County, Mitchell County, Montgomery County, Moore County, Nash County, New Hanover County, Northampton County, Onslow County, Orange County, Pamlico County, Pasquotank County, Pender County, Perquimans County, Person County, Pitt County, Polk County, Randolph County, Richmond County, Robeson County, Rockingham County, Rowan County, Rutherford County, Sampson County, Scotland County, Stanly County, Stokes County, Surry County, Swain County, Transylvania County, Tyrrell County, Union County, Vance County, Wake County, Warren County, Washington County, Watauga County, Wayne County, Wilkes County, Wilson County, Yadkin County, Yancey County

Special Olympics North Carolina
2200 Gateway Centre Boulevard, Suite 201
Morrisville, NC 27560
Phone:  +1 (919) 719-7662+1 (919) 719-7662
Toll-free:  +1 (800) 843-6276+1 (800) 843-6276

Website:  www.sonc.net
Email:  Contact us
Volunteer:  Opportunities

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