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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


May 19, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

The reason I hate the word

By Trinity Laxton

Some boys at my school called the special needs children "retards" that really hurt me.View Story Some boys at my school called the special needs children "retards" that really hurt me. I don't like the word or how they are treated, it really hurts me to know how people label them. It isn't fair to them. I was literally bawling my eyes out when that happened.

About Trinity Laxton:i am cheerleader who volunteers at my school to work with special needs children. I enjoy doing that the most !
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May 19, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Hometown Pride - North Carolina Athlete Wins Gold at Penn Relays

By Katie McGhee

Samantha Munson holding her gold medal.

A Special Olympics North Carolina runner won a gold medal in the 100 meter dash in the Penn Relays, the largest track and field competition in the United States.View Story A Special Olympics North Carolina runner won a gold medal in the 100 meter dash in the Penn Relays, the largest track and field competition in the United States.Samantha Munson is from Franklin County. N.C. She has made her hometown proud every year at the Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games. But little did she know that nine years after her first competition, she would represent not just Franklin County, but the whole state of North Carolina in the Penn Relays.Following the 2016 North Carolina Summer Games, she qualified to compete in the 100-meter dash at the 2017 Penn Relays. She submitted her scores for consideration. Munson was excited to qualify but was over the moon when she found out that she was chosen to compete. She would be the first female athlete from Special Olympics North Carolina to compete in the Penn Relays. The Penn Relays accepts competitors from across the United States. In Munson's race, she competed against other Special Olympics athletes who qualified.And she won.Read more about Samantha Munson and her race.

About Katie McGhee:I am the Communications Manager for Special Olympics North Carolina.
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May 08, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Jamie Hathcock: Special Olympics NC May Athlete of the Month

By Katie McGhee

Jamie Hathcock competing in athletics at SONC's Summer Games

For Jamie Hathcock of Stanly County, Special Olympics has become a large part of his everyday life.View Story For Jamie Hathcock of Stanly County, Special Olympics has become a large part of his everyday life. Since he was eight years old, Hathcock has participated in every sport Special Olympics offers, including his favorite sport of track and field, and was one of the first golfers in Stanly County. Over the last 33 years, Hathcock has put his heart and soul into being a great athlete, teammate and leader. Hathcock took his love for Special Olympics and went the extra mile. When Special Olympics Stanly County held a local fundraiser, Hathcock decided to reach out to his community to help raise money. After visiting business after business, Hathcock raised nearly $1,400. “I shared how much Special Olympics means to me with each person I talked to,” said Hathcock.

About Katie McGhee:I am the Manager 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