North Carolina

Special Olympics is a global organization that serves more than 4 million 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.

Founded in 1971, Special Olympics North Carolina provides services and opportunities to more than 38,000 athletes, supported by nearly 5,000 volunteer coaches, and we host nearly 600 competitions annually.

Through sports, health, education and community programming, Special Olympics is tackling inactivity, intolerance, isolation and injustice that people with intellectual disabilities throughout the world face. In addition to sports, our programmatic offerings currently include: Athlete Leadership Programs, Healthy Athletes, Healthy Communities, Young Athletes Program, Project UNIFY, Special Olympics Unified Sports, and NC Law Enforcement Torch Run.

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 15, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Special Olympics Games from the Outer Banks of North Carolina

By Douglas & Jannie Kenyon

I cover lots of events for the paper but the Special Olympics events are always, well, special. Everyone there is feeling so great and by the time I leave the event my cheeks are hurting from smiling.View Story Hello, I made this video for our local online newspaper. The organizers here are using it for a grant proposal as well. I cover lots of events for the paper but the Special Olympics events are always, well, special. Everyone there is feeling so great and by the time I leave the event my cheeks are hurting from smiling.

About Douglas & Jannie Kenyon:My wife and I make videos here on the Outer Banks. The Special Olympics was so fun, we can't wait to do it again next year. We made this video in just a few hours time. If there are any opportunities to film more events with your organization please don't hesitate to contact us, we do travel.
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March 05, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Proud to Stomp Out the R-Word

By Denise Bunch

My daughter, Kaitlin Bunch, is a Special Needs Middle School teacher at Chowan Middle School in Tyner, NC. She is a very strong advocate of ending the use the of r-word!!View Story My daughter, Kaitlin Bunch, is a Special Needs Middle School teacher at Chowan Middle School in Tyner, NC. She is a very strong advocate of ending the use the of r-word!! She will quickly, but respectfully, tell someone why they should not use that word. I am proud to be her mom and proud to support this cause!!

About Denise Bunch:I am the mom of a middle school Special Needs teacher and so very proud of the work she does to ensure her students and special needs individuals are treated fairly and with respect :)
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March 05, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

What A Great DAY AT HJ!

By Myron Gavin/Ann Aldrich

On March 4, 2015, HJ MacDonald Middle School-New Bern, NC held its first “Spread the Word to End the Word “ campaign. Hundreds of students committed themselves to showing “Respect for Everyone” by making a pledge to stop using the “R-Word-Retard/Retarded”.View Story On March 4, 2015, HJ MacDonald Middle School-New Bern, NC held its first “Spread the Word to End the Word “ campaign. Hundreds of students committed themselves to showing “Respect for Everyone” by making a pledge to stop using the “R-Word-Retard/Retarded”. Our EC students participated in the morning news show to “spread the word” generating classroom discussions about the use of the “R-Word” in anticipation of the event. They hosted the pledge signing in the cafeteria during lunch which included a video slide show. The response of the wonderful students at HJ was overwhelming as they eagerly signed the pledge and signed up to be peer buddies and Special Olympic coaches. You had to be there to feel the swell of caring and respect as the student body spontaneously burst into applause to honor and recognize their peers.

About Myron Gavin/Ann Aldrich:I am Special Edcation teacher at HJM Middle School and the parent of a child with special needs. I volunteer with Special Olympics invarious events including including Project Unify.
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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

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