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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


January 30, 2018 | North America: North Carolina

Rodney Parker - 2018 Special Olympics NC January Athlete of the Month

By Maggie DeWeese

Rodney carrying the torch during the Unified Relay Across America

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Thirty years ago, when Special Olympics Guilford/Greensboro Athlete Rodney Parker first took the Special Olympics Athlete Oath, he decided he was going to take it seriously. “It became a life thing,” he explains. “Before that,View Story “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”Thirty years ago, when Special Olympics Guilford/Greensboro Athlete Rodney Parker first took the Special Olympics Athlete Oath, he decided he was going to take it seriously.“It became a life thing,” he explains. “Before that, everyone told me I couldn’t do anything and Special Olympics gave me a chance to show people I could bravely attempt anything.”

About Maggie DeWeese:I am the Communications Intern at Special Olympics North Carolina.
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December 27, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Against the Odds - Special Olympics NC Athlete Doesn't Let Adversity Get In Her Way

By Maggie DeWeese

Special Olympics Wilkes County Athlete, Christy Poteat, and her guide dog, Autumn

Michael Jordan once said: “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Special Olympics Wilkes County Athlete, Christy Poteat, has spent her entire life figuring out just how to work aroundView Story Michael Jordan once said: “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”Special Olympics Wilkes County Athlete, Christy Poteat, has spent her entire life figuring out just how to work around those obstacles in her path.Born three months premature, Poteat weighed only two pounds, 15 ounces. To keep her alive, doctors administered oxygen to her throughout her nearly two-month hospital stay and while this was important for most of her development, it was detrimental to her vision. Because of an over-administration of oxygen, she developed Retinopathy of Prematurity, causing her to become mostly blind in both of her eyes.“I can see the shapes of objects that are near me and sometimes bright colors that are farther away from me,” Poteat says, “and that’s about all.”continued...

About Maggie DeWeese:I am the Communications Intern at Special Olympics North Carolina.
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December 27, 2017 | North America: North Carolina

Bridget Leary - 2017 Special Olympics NC December Athlete of the Month

By Katie McGhee

Behind Bridget Leary’s twinkling smile and bubbly personality is the determination of a warrior. Born with an eye condition that causes issues with her corneas, Leary has been cautious about eye safety her entire life. Three years ago, she even had to have a cornea transplant. However, Leary neveView Story Behind Bridget Leary’s twinkling smile and bubbly personality is the determination of a warrior.Born with an eye condition that causes issues with her corneas, Leary has been cautious about eye safety her entire life. Three years ago, she even had to have a cornea transplant. However, Leary never allowed her vision to slow her down.Committed to being an active member of her community, Leary has volunteered at events through her school from a young age. Whether it’s hosting a Thanksgiving feast for school board members or volunteering at her local animal shelter, there isn’t an activity or event that she would turn down.

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