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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


December 30, 2016 | SOI General: Headquarters

22 Special Olympics Programs Activate Fitness Programming Models

By Monica Forquer

Special Olympics Nigeria was one of 22 Special Olympics Programs to activate a fitness implementation grant in 2016.

In 2016, Special Olympics created new resources and provided support for Programs expanding their fitness offerings to Special Olympics athletes interested in pursuing year-round, lifelong fitness.View Story Physical fitness is an important part of the mission of Special Olympics as it is necessary for optimal health and athletic performance. In 2016, Special Olympics created new resources and provided support for Programs expanding their fitness offerings to Special Olympics athletes interested in pursuing year-round, lifelong fitness. Twenty-two Special Olympics Programs were selected for a Fitness Implementation grants funded by Finish Line. Through this grant, more than 1,500 athletes, partners, coaches and family members got to experience the importance of a healthy lifestyle through adequate physical activity, nutrition and hydration as Programs replicated one of three field-developed, SOI-endorsed fitness program models. The grant cycle ended on 15 December, but for many of the grantees, this year was just the beginning with most Programs planning to continue fitness opportunities in the future.

About Monica Forquer:I am the Manager of Fitness for Special Olympics.
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December 23, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Ronnie Meadows: December Athlete of the Month for North Carolina

By Katie McGhee

For 35 years, Special Olympics Caswell Development Center athlete Ronnie Meadows has had one catchphrase: “I’m the man!”View Story For 35 years, Special Olympics Caswell Development Center athlete Ronnie Meadows has had one catchphrase: “I’m the man!” Since he began competing in Special Olympics, Meadows has been counted on by many as a team captain, friend and good sport. A quiet, but determined, athlete, Meadows shows that a positive attitude and confidence can help him overcome challenges. “He doesn’t want to be in the limelight, but he always comes through when needed,” explains local program coordinator Dalen Herring. “He is truly the glue that holds his teams together.”

About Katie McGhee:I am the Manager of Communications and Social Media for Special Olympics North Carolina.
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December 23, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Special Olympics Global Unified Youth Exchange offers Life-Changing Experiences

By Rachel McQuiston

From the moment they landed in Raleigh, 20 Chinese students and educators experienced the true meaning of “Southern hospitality”.View Story From the moment they landed in Raleigh, 20 Chinese students and educators experienced the true meaning of “Southern hospitality”. They’d traveled to North Carolina for the 2016 Special Olympics Global Unified Youth Exchange, a week-long program that united students from two diverse cultures around a shared commitment to inclusive collaboration, authentic engagement and furthering awareness of Special Olympics in their schools and communities. “Special Olympics North Carolina was thrilled to welcome our new friends from China to the Tar Heel state,” said Keith L. Fishburne, Special Olympics NC President/CEO. “The entire week was focused on bringing them together with North Carolina students who exemplify the power of youth leadership within our movement so the two groups could learn from each other.”

About Rachel McQuiston:I'm the VP 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