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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


November 28, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Remembering Billy Quick, Whose Name Said it All

By Christy Weir

Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, left, and Special Olympics North Carolina athlete Billy Quick.

Billy Quick captured his spirit in one sentence: “You might be able to out read me, but I can out run you!”View Story Billy Quick of High Point, North Carolina was a true ambassador of our movement. His dazzling physical skills were matched only by his contagious smile and his common-sense approach to leadership. He was a Special Olympics athlete who celebrated everyone’s abilities. He captured it in one quip: “You might be able to out-read me, but I can out-run you!” Quick passed away over the Thanksgiving weekend at the age of 43. “He was a hero — a man whose smile and wit and kindness and strength could move hearts like no other," said Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver. Quick was a leader throughout our movement. He served on the boards of directors for Special Olympics North Carolina and the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Quick took part in the first Global Athlete Congress in 2000. He traveled the world speaking to schools, civic groups, and business leaders about how Special Olympics changed his life. “Being in Special Olympics has taught me how to work on my goals,” Quick would tell his audiences. “It taught me how to set goals and reach them.” He fulfilled a dream by running the 1997 New York Marathon. He helped make history as part of the first U.S. team to run in the Havana, Cuba, marathon in 2000. He once biked across the U.S. in the Face of America Ride. “For more than three decades Billy has had such a positive impact not just as an athlete, but as a prominent leader in the Special Olympics movement,” said Keith L. Fishburne, president of Special Olympics North Carolina. “This is heartbreaking,” Shriver said. "I can’t believe we have lost him.”

About Christy Weir:I am the director of media and public relations for Special Olympics.
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November 10, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Special Olympics screenings help students become participants

By Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

​This year, Butler High student Jeffrey Sanchez will be participating in the Special Olympics North Carolina for the first time.View Story ​This year, Butler High student Jeffrey Sanchez will be participating in the Special Olympics North Carolina for the first time — thanks to a free MedFest screening event recently offered by the organization in partnership with Carolinas HealthCare Systems. MedFest is a Special Olympics initiative combining health and outreach, helping athletes who have difficulty getting to a doctor to obtain their valid and current medical forms to participate.

About Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools:Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is located in the Charlotte, North Carolina region and provides academic instruction, rigor and support each school day to more than 146,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 170​ schools throughout the cities and towns of Mecklenburg County.
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November 03, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Yasmin Neal—Athlete of the Month in North Carolina

By Katie McGhee

At just 19 years old, Yasmin Neal of Forsyth County is already a seasoned Special Olympics athlete.View Story At just 19 years old, Yasmin Neal of Forsyth County is already a seasoned Special Olympics athlete. Starting in the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program when she was 2 years old, Neal quickly developed a love for sports Young Athletes™ is an inclusive early childhood sports and educational play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities, aged 2 to 7 years old. When she turned eight, Neal began to compete as a Special Olympics North Carolina athlete. Since then, Neal has learned much about herself and what being a Special Olympics athlete means to her. “These past 17 years have taught her how to work with others and be a team player,” said Neal’s mother, Melissa. Often described as committed to helping others, Neal goes out of her way to assist her fellow athletes. During practice, Neal can be found showing her teammates correct techniques, and motivating others to be strong and do their best.

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