USA: Southern California

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

  • Aquatics 
  • Athletics 
  • Basketball
  • Bocce 
  • Bowling 
  • Floor Hockey 
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball 

News and Stories


August 01, 2018 | North America: Southern California

An Unforgettable Moment: A memorable effort by a very special Special Olympian

By Edward Tooley

After sharing this story with the students I teach, a student asked if they could draw a picture that complimented the story. Here it is!!!!!!!!!

One of my college professors was searching for student volunteers for a Special Olympics event to take place the next Saturday. As the sign up sheet went up and down the aisles I started to come up with excuses for not volunteering.View Story One of my college professors was searching for student volunteers for a Special Olympics event to take place the next Saturday. As the sign up sheet went up and down the aisles I started to come up with excuses for not volunteering. Maybe it was the distance to the college where the event was to take place, or the early time volunteers had to report for duty (early time, that is, for an occasionally lazy college kid). Whatever the reason that made me hesitate, I am so thankful to this day that it did not keep me from volunteering. If I missed this event then I would have missed one of the most unforgettable moments that I have ever witnessed. An event that I unashamedly admit changed the way I live my life.I arrived at the college bright and early and reported to the volunteer tent. My assignment was simple, I was to stand at the finish line and wait until the event was over, and then take the results to the announcing booth. While standing at the finish line, I was able to witness many amazing efforts and close races. I was most impressed by the effort each athlete gave in their event. What also impressed me was the sincere joy each athlete expressed while participating. Sometimes the sheer joy of participating in a sporting event can get lost in the intense competition of winning and losing.Then a miraculous moment happened right before my eyes, a group of athletes were lined up to run a short sprint. My eyes were captured by one of the athletes in a wheelchair, a little girl with a huge smile wearing bright bows in her hair. Her smile filled the stadium that day. I couldn’t help but smile back at her. The runners were ready and the gun sounded. They were off. Each runner sped up the track with all their might. My eyes searched for the little girl with the bright bows. There she was pumping her arms with every ounce of energy she had. My eyes were now riveted to her every move. She was having difficulty getting her wheelchair to move smoothly down the lane. I did notice that this brave athlete happened to be the only competitor in a wheelchair. But there she pumped. And pumped. Her efforts were getting little result. But that did not stop her. The other athletes were now finished with the race. I noticed as she got closer that she also had an injured arm. But that did not stop this BRIGHT star in the day. The race was long over but this athlete kept pumping. The crowd of spectators focused on her. They started to cheer passionately for this amazing athlete. That made the little girl pump even harder. As she neared the finish line the roar of the crowd was thunderous. There I stood cheering with tears falling down my cheeks and chills going up my spine. I wish you could have been there to hear the roar as she passed the finish line.After all these years, my ears can still hear the echoes of those cheers. I wish I could thank that remarkable athlete for what her efforts taught this unmotivated college guy. I grew up a lot that day because of the tenacity and effort of that little girl in the wheelchair. I don’t even know her name, but the memory of her effort has stayed with me. I was reminded that day of a verse from the Bible found in the book of Ecclesiastes. It states, “Whatever you do, do it with all your might.” God reminded me that I wasn’t making the most of the abilities and talents He had so graciously bestowed upon me. Whenever I get that lazy bug that buzzes in and out of my life, God brings to mind this heroic athlete with the bows in her hair and the joy in her heart.

About Edward Tooley:I am a teacher of history and a free lance writer. This story was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul in 2015 under the subtitle: Volunteering and Giving Back. That title is a bit misleading, because it is the attitude and determination of the Special Olympians that gives us the proper perspective about competition and sportsmanship. I hoping that one day this story will turn into a book for Children.
Share
View less ▲

June 05, 2018 | North America: Southern California

Special olympics games

By Alex Delp

For 3 years I’ve been attending this event and has been more popular in Orange California. Special Olympics was the first to offer games. Throughout the year Special Olympics program they do the pledge as well as the athletic oath.View Story For 3 years I’ve been attending this event and has been more popular in Orange California. Special Olympics was the first to offer games. Throughout the year Special Olympics program they do the pledge as well as the athletic oath. At every competition Special Olympics provides gold silver and bronze medals for our top 3 winners. 4th through 8th place offers ribbons in a variety of colors. When you get the same medals in a row it’s called a winning streak. All gold is a gold metalist, all silver is a silver medalist and all bronze is a bronze medalist. Over 1,100 athletes will be competing in the Summer Games. The Summer Games is on June 9 till June 10 at Cal State, Long Beach. The medals and ribbons you get are yours to keep. Additionally awards are part of MTM recognition.

About Alex Delp:For special olympics their awards and medal designs will vary. At the diamond resorts international people compete for medals as well. I couldn’t have done this without all your support for the last 3 years. I look forward to seeing special olympics next year located at Fred Kelly stadium adjacent to Elmodena high school
Share
View less ▲

March 26, 2018 | North America: Southern California

End the R-Word

By VS

I am a mother of a smart, handsome, sweet, and funny 8 year old boy with Autism. It is cringing to hear this word being used casually, but when the word is being used to disrespect someone you love, it hurts. I will never forget the young woman who called my son an abomination and the r-word. ThatView Story I am a mother of a smart, handsome, sweet, and funny 8 year old boy with Autism. It is cringing to hear this word being used casually, but when the word is being used to disrespect someone you love, it hurts. I will never forget the young woman who called my son an abomination and the r-word. That is why I feel so passionate about this. No one deserves to be called the "r-word"!

About VS :
Share
View less ▲

Do you have a story to Share?

Tell us your story so we can publish it for others to see.



2014 USA Games

The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games ran June 14-21. See results and stories.

Jun 25 - Jul 4 2011 2011 Summer Games Athens, Greece

Areas Served

Antelope Valley, Barstow, Desert, East San Gabriel Valley, Fairview Developmental Center, Greater San Bernardino, Greater Los Angeles, Imperial Valley, Kern/Inyo Counties, Lanterman Developmental Center, Long Beach, Los Angeles Region, Mojave, Morongo Basin, Northern Santa Barbara, Orange County, Pasadena, Pomona Valley, Riverside Area, Riverside/San Bernardino Regions, San Diego, San Gabriel Valley Region, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clarita Valley, South Bay, Southeast Los Angeles, Temecula Valley, Tri-Valley, Ventura County, Western San Bernardino, and Westside. More...