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USA: 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.

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


November 06, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Ride on! Special Olympics Cumberland County Athlete Creates Lasting Impact on Community

By Katie McGhee

Steven and his dad, Tim.

It’s been said that horses can sense a person’s feelings. This sixth sense was evident with Cumberland County athlete, Steven Prescott from the first moment he sat in a saddle. There was an immediate connection with his horse, thanks in large part to Prescott’s gentle disposition. Prescott starteView Story It’s been said that horses can sense a person’s feelings. This sixth sense was evident with Cumberland County athlete, Steven Prescott from the first moment he sat in a saddle. There was an immediate connection with his horse, thanks in large part to Prescott’s gentle disposition.Prescott started his Special Olympics career with swimming, but began training in equestrian after a suggestion from his coach. He started attending practices with equestrian coaches Larry and Bette Scott, and quickly fell in love with the sport.“He really took to horseback riding,” explained Prescott’s mom, Claudia. “We didn’t push him at all and kept him with side walkers and basic events at first. But almost immediately, his coaches told us he could become an independent rider.”And just like that, the Prescotts became what they call “horse people.”

About Katie McGhee:I am the Manager of Communications and Social Media for Special Olympics North Carolina.
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November 06, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Neal Graham - 2017 Special Olympics NC Athlete of the Month

By Katie McGhee

Neal Graham of Avery County

Just take a walk down Lonely Street to Heartbreak Hotel and you may find Neal Graham of Avery County impersonating his favorite singer, Elvis Presley. That’s exactly what he was doing when Special Olympics Avery County’s local coordinator Holly Magid first met him and that first impression has stView Story Just take a walk down Lonely Street to Heartbreak Hotel and you may find Neal Graham of Avery County impersonating his favorite singer, Elvis Presley.That’s exactly what he was doing when Special Olympics Avery County’s local coordinator Holly Magid first met him and that first impression has stuck with her ever since.“When I first got involved in Avery County’s Special Olympics program, Neal stood out immediately. When I first met him, he was performing in a talent show impersonating Elvis Presley in full costume. His flare and excitement carried through even the next day,” said Magid.Graham’s energetic personality may help him perform Elvis’s best hits in front of an audience, but it also helps him on the field of play. There isn’t a sport he won’t try and for Graham, that means practice, practice, practice.

About Katie McGhee:I am the Manager of Communications and Social Media for Special Olympics North Carolina.
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November 06, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Team Emma Bug Goes Over the Edge

By Katie McGhee

With his back facing out towards the city of Raleigh, Steven Pait sat on the edge of the Wells Fargo Capitol Center. The view was gorgeous and he felt mostly at ease as he felt a light breeze through his helmet. It wasn’t until Pait stood up and leaned back into harness that his stomach dropped. TheView Story With his back facing out towards the city of Raleigh, Steven Pait sat on the edge of the Wells Fargo Capitol Center. The view was gorgeous and he felt mostly at ease as he felt a light breeze through his helmet. It wasn’t until Pait stood up and leaned back into harness that his stomach dropped. Then he made the mistake of looking down.He couldn’t even tell himself that it wasn’t that high—it was. But then Pait spotted a small clump of bright purple shirts and instantly felt at ease again. He looked down at his own purple shirt, with “Team Emma” written in large letters and a cartoon bug in the middle, and smiled. Then, he stepped Over the Edge.While the fear of heights may keep many people from attempting this 30-story rappel, Pait has a very simple reason. His daughter, Emma, is his source of inspiration.

About Katie McGhee:I am the Manager of Communications and Social Media 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