North Carolina

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.  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


May 05, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

"Unstoppable" Dustin Eudy, Athlete of the Month in North Carolina

By Megan O'Donnell

Dustin Eudy of Avery County North Carolina is the Special Olympics NC Athlete of the Month for May 2016.

If Special Olympics Avery County athlete Dustin Eudy was asked which super hero characterized him the most, without question the answer would have to be “Flash”!View Story If Special Olympics Avery County athlete Dustin Eudy was asked which super hero characterized him the most, without question the answer would have to be “Flash”! The 18 year-old has been a blur on the track since he was 8 years old. “He runs like the wind, “said Barb Holdcroft, Eudy’s aquatics coach. “No one can beat him, he’s just unstoppable. He is so talented and I expected to the see the same thing when we started the swim team.” To Holdcroft’s surprise, Eudy was not dominant or fast in the water but he was eager to learn. “Dustin is a very hard worker and is always trying to learn new things whether it’s in school or in Special Olympics,” said Holdcroft. “He was so enthusiastic and eager. He just needed some work on his stroke techniques.” Eudy is in terrific shape. In addition to his Special Olympics sports, he also is a member of the Avery High School football and wrestling teams. Despite a serious hearing impairment, Eudy loves to be involved and active!

About Megan O'Donnell:Special Olympics NC VP of Communications
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May 05, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Special Olympics North Carolina Honored for "An Amazing Program"

By Megan O'Donnell

Keith Fishburne (1-r), Project UNIFY Partner Rachel Lamm and Special Olympics NC athlete Jack Yarborough show off the Mutual of America Community Partnership Award.

Special Olympics North Carolina won a national award for working in schools to build more inclusive communities for people with intellectual disabilities.View Story Special Olympics is a game changer in North Carolina because of its inclusive programs in schools. Special Olympics North Carolina won a Merit Finalist Award in Mutual of America’s 2015 nationwide Community Partnership Award competition. The proof could be heard in inspirational testimonies of each person who shared their experience during an April 2016 luncheon to recognize the North Carolina Program. “I noticed other students were afraid to use the basketballs or water fountains after my special needs students in P.E. class,” recalled an emotional Heather Sciercy, an Exceptional Children’s teacher at WC Friday Middle School in Gaston County. “I started Project UNIFY to help change that behavior and am so proud of what has occurred. We are truly inclusive today. We have a Unified Cheerleading team, a Unified Band, and our Project UNIFY club is the biggest in the school. It’s an amazing program!” Project UNIFY is also known as the Special Olympics Unified Schools program. It's a popular program that's in place in more than 1,000 schools in the United States. As one of 10 finalists in the Mutual of Omaha competition, Special Olympics North Carolina received a monetary award for working to build more inclusive communities for people with intellectual disabilities.

About Megan O'Donnell:Special Olympics NC VP of Communications
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May 05, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Moving to the Front of the Class for Healthy Athletes Challenge

By Megan O'Donnell

Zack Kupner of Alleghany County is getting fit thanks to the Healthy Athletes Challenge.

When Zack Kupner joins his class instructor at the front of his fitness class at the Alleghany Wellness Center everyone smiles!View Story When Zack Kupner joins his class instructor at the front of his fitness class at the Alleghany Wellness Center everyone smiles! Kupner literally came from the back of the room where he wouldn’t participate at all when the Healthy Athletes Challenge first began and now he’s at the front of the class. The exercise is paying off. “He really likes to exercise now,” said his mom. “He’s always had some foot problems and I’ve noticed his strength and endurance are much improved. We walked all around Grandfather Mountain and Linville Falls one day last weekend and he handled it all just fine! I was so surprised.”

About Megan O'Donnell:Several western North Carolina counties of which Alleghany County is one are participating in the Healthy Athletes Challenge, a fitness and nutrition based program, funded by the NC GlaxoSmithKline Ribbon of Hope grant to Special Olympics NC.
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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

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