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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.  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.

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


February 17, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Living SOfit - Davidson County Athlete Makes Health a Priority

By Katie McGhee

Every Thursday night, you can find a group of Special Olympics Davidson County athletes working together on an important aspect of being an athlete—their health.View Story Every Thursday night, you can find a group of Special Olympics Davidson County athletes working together on an important aspect of being an athlete—their health. Five months ago, Davidson County athlete Brian Goins heard about a new health program, called SOfit, that would help athletes focus on health and wellness. After learning more, he decided he should try to bring the program to his community, believing it would benefit athletes in his local program. “I wanted to help myself and fellow athletes lose weight, become better athletes and learn how to make healthy choices,” explained Goins. SOfit is a health and wellness program that provides athletes with the opportunity to be more active. The program is a Unified experience where athletes work with a coach and Unified Partners, people without an intellectual disability, to not only increase their everyday activity but to learn more about proper nutrition, healthy eating, and active living.

About Katie McGhee:I am the Manager of Communications for Special Olympics North Carolina.
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February 10, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Daniel Rothe - NC February Athlete of the Month

By Katie McGhee

Daniel Rothe is used to competing with his delegation from Transylvania County. But in 2016, he had a new role: coach.View Story Daniel Rothe is used to attending competitions with his delegation from Transylvania County. But at the 2016 SONC Summer Games, something was different. Instead of competing with his teammates, he had a new role: coach. A knee injury forced Rothe to step away from competition in order to heal in time to play his favorite sport, soccer. An active participant in Polar Plunges and fundraising, Rothe is committed to being involved in his local program in any way possible. Now, however, he realized that he wanted to be involved with Special Olympics in a new way. At just 19 years old, Rothe stepped up to help lead his fellow athletes as a coach for athletics. “He has always shown great leadership with the other athletes, so he decided to try coaching,” said Rothe’s mother, Judy.

About Katie McGhee:I am the Manager of Communications for Special Olympics North Carolina.
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February 10, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Marchello Smith - NC Athlete of the Year

By Rachel McQuiston

Marchello Smith has come a long way. When Smith first found Special Olympics at the age of 13, he was an admittedly “shrimpy” kid.View Story Marchello Smith has come a long way. When Smith first found Special Olympics at the age of 13, he was an admittedly “shrimpy” kid whose shyness and uncertainty had kept him off the field of play his entire life. But as he bravely stepped up to the starting line for the 100 m race, he had one thing in mind. “I don’t like to lose!” laughs Smith. “I definitely don’t like to lose. There were a lot of other much bigger kids lined up with me and I didn’t know if I could beat them. But I sure was going to give it my best try.” When the starter’s pistol fired, Smith took off like a shot and never looked back, winning the race and catching the eye of Special Olympics Wake County coaches. He quickly went on to compete in basketball, softball and soccer. “I loved Special Olympics right away. I was teased a lot as a kid and really loved the acceptance and support my teammates and coaches offered. They kept me out of trouble and became part of my family.”

About Rachel McQuiston:I am the Vice President of Communications for Special Olympics North Carolina.
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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