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


July 27, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Special Olympics gets new gear, thanks to UNCA's Thomas

By Bob Berghaus

The basketball teams for Special Olympics of Buncombe County can thank UNC Asheville rising junior forward Ahmad Thomas for new uniforms.View Story The basketball teams for Special Olympics of Buncombe County can thank UNC Asheville rising junior forward Ahmad Thomas for new uniforms that will be coming soon. Kevin O’Connor, a retired businessman who serves on the board for The Cliffs at Walnut Cove Members Association, mentors Thomas in UNC Asheville’s Leaders for Leaders program. “I was talking with Ahmad and asking him about his career goals and he told me he wanted to be a special education teacher,” O’Connor said Monday before a press conference where Special Olympics was presented with a check from Walnut Cove, which is covering the cost of the uniforms.

About Bob Berghaus:Special Olympics North Carolina Communications Intern
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July 11, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Daniel Hunsucker – 2016 Special Olympics NC July Athlete of the Month

By Madeline Safrit

Over the years, Daniel Hunsucker has become an avid participant on the Guilford/Greensboro Aquatics team, acting as both an athlete and mentor for younger athletes on the teamView Story For most people, swimming means a day at the beach or an afternoon spent lounging by the pool. For Daniel Hunsucker, a Special Olympics Guilford/Greensboro athlete, swimming has been an amazing opportunity to help coach, befriend other athletes, and share his talent with the community. Over the years, Hunsucker has become an avid participant on the Guilford/Greensboro Aquatics team, acting as both an athlete and mentor for younger athletes on the team. From the beginning, Hunsucker’s friends and family noticed his innate leadership characteristics. “He is very good with people. He enjoys the interaction and he thrives on it. He is very good with younger athletes,” said Tina Hunsucker, his mother. Outside of the pool, Hunsucker has become a leader in his community as a participant in with InFocus, an international organization that works with individuals with intellectual disabilities to help them photograph important moments in their lives.

About Madeline Safrit:Special Olympics North Carolina Communications Intern
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July 11, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

New Partnership Promotes Sun Safety at Summer Games

By Madeline Safrit

This year, Special Olympics North Carolina partnered with with three organizations to provide portable sunscreen dispensers during the 2016 Summer Games.View Story For many people, summer means trips to the beach, outdoor sporting events and vacation. However, many people often forget that summer also means wearing more sunscreen. This year, Special Olympics North Carolina partnered with Aesthetic Solutions, the American Society of Dermatological Surgery (ASDS) and La Roche-Posay to provide portable sunscreen dispensers during the 2016 SONC Summer Games. 15 sun safety stations were placed at venues for softball, softball skills, athletics, cycling and NC State’s Fountain Dining Hall throughout the course of the weekend Dr. Christie Regula of ASDS emphasized that this initiative is focused on reminding people of the importance of sunscreen and protecting their skin, especially during long outdoor sporting events, such as Athletics competitions. “At events like this, people apply sunscreen before they come and forget to reapply when they should be reapplying every two hours,” said Regula.

About Madeline Safrit:Special Olympics North Carolina Communications Intern
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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