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Special Olympics
Special Olympics logo.svg
Founders Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Founded 1968
Headquarters 1133 19th Street, N.W., Washington, DC, U.S. 20036-3604
Origins Camp Shriver
Staff Tim Shriver (Chairman and CEO)
Stephen M. Carter (Lead Director & Vice Chair)
Nadia Comaneci (Vice Chair)
Raymond J. Lane (Vice Chair)
J. Brady Lum (President and COO)
Andrew Robertson (Treasurer)
Area served International
Motto Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

Special Olympics is an international organization and competition held every two years, alternating between Summer and Winter Games, for people who have intellectual disabilities. There are also local, national and regional competitions in over 150 countries worldwide.



The first International Special Olympics Games were held in Chicago in 1968. Anne McGlone Burke, a physical education teacher with the Chicago Park District, began with the idea for a one-time Olympic-style athletic competition for people with special needs. Burke then approached Eunice Kennedy Shriver, head of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, to fund the event. Shriver encouraged Burke to expand on the idea and the JPK Foundation provided a grant of $25,000. More than 1,000 athletes from across the United States and Canada participated. At the Games, Shriver announced the formation of Special Olympics. Shriver’s sister, Rosemary Kennedy, underwent a lobotomy in an effort to alter her personality. The brain damage inflicted by the operation caused a severe permanent intellectual disability. This disability is often credited as Shriver's inspiration to help grow the Special Olympics.

In June 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp, known as Camp Shriver, for children with intellectual disabilities at her home in Potomac, Maryland. Using Camp Shriver as an example, Shriver promoted the concept of involvement in physical activity and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Camp Shriver became an annual event, and the Kennedy Foundation (of which Shriver was Executive Vice President) gave grants to universities, recreation departments and community centers to hold similar camps.

The crowd at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games Opening Ceremonies in Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland.

In 1971, The U.S. Olympic Committee gave the Special Olympics official approval to use the name “Olympics”.

The first International Special Olympics Winter Games were held in February 1977 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, USA. [1]

In 1988, the Special Olympics was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In 1997, Healthy Athletes became an official Special Olympics initiative, offering health information and screenings to Special Olympics athletes worldwide.

On October 30, 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the "Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act," Public Law 108-406. The bill authorized funding for its Healthy Athletes, Education, and Worldwide Expansion programs. [2] Co-sponsored by Representatives Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Harry Reid (D-NV), the bills were passed by unanimous consent in both chambers.

In July 2006, the first Special Olympics USA National Games were held at Iowa State University. Teams from all 50 states and the District of Columbia participated. [3]

In 2003 the first Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held outside of the United States took place in Dublin Ireland. Approximately 7000 athletes from 150 countries competed over 18 disciplines. The Dublin games were also the first to have their own opening and closing ceremonies broadcast live, performed by President of Ireland Mary McAleese

In 2008, the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International launched the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign to encourage individuals to stop using the word "retard" in everyday speech.


More than 3.1 million athletes of all ages are involved in Special Olympics sports training and competition in over 170 countries. The organization offers year-round training and competition in 30 Olympic-type summer and winter sports.

The Special Olympics Oath is "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

See also


External links

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