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The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
In 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver began a summer day camp at her home in Maryland for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This camp was designed to allow these special individuals a chance to explore their capabilities in a variety of sports and physical activities. The idea quickly took off, and in 1968 the first International Special Olympics took place at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL, with 1,000 athletes from the US and Canada competing in Track & Field and Swimming.
In 1975, the hard work and good will of Shriver's efforts reached Arizona. The first Special Olympics Arizona competition consisted of a one-day Track & Field event with 100 athletes and 20 volunteers. Today, Special Olympics Arizona offers 22 sports, 170 programs in 15 regional areas, and five statewide competitions for the over 10,600 athletes, 1,300 Class A volunteers and 5,000 day-of-event volunteers on an annual basis. We work so that we may realize founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver's vision: to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities everywhere, and, in turn, transform the lives of everyone they touch - building a better, more accepting world for all of us.
- Sarah Haines
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