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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.
Every two years, the world transcends the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion, to come together for the largest sporting and humanitarian event on the planet, the Special Olympics World Games. Alternating between Summer and Winter Games, this event is the flagship event of the Special Olympics Movement, which promotes equality, acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities around the world.
No other organized event in the world has the emotional and social impact of the Special Olympics World Games. For the athletes and their families, it opens doors to unimagined possibilities. For those who volunteer, support, and sponsor the Games, it inspires unprecedented pride and hope for a brighter future. And for the cities, states, and nations who host the Games, it transforms their society, creating a more just and understanding environment for all, and demonstrating to the world their recognition of the value of every human being.
The Special Olympics World Games feature nine days of challenging and inspiring international competition among thousands of athletes, making it the world’s second-largest sports event, after the Olympic Games. The World Games are watched on television by millions of viewers across six continents, and more than 500,000 spectators including world leaders, celebrities and dignitaries, typically attend the event. The culmination of years of athletic training and competition, the World Games bring together adults and children with intellectual disabilities to compete on one of the world’s greatest athletic stages.
The Special Olympics World Games are one of the most powerful vehicles for communicating to the world the abilities and gifts of people with intellectual disabilities. Wherever they are held, the World Games act as a catalyst for growth in Special Olympics sports programs in communities around the world and promote awareness among all segments of society. We are helping to make the world a better, healthier and more joyful place - one athlete, one volunteer, one family member at a time.
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance.
Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.4 million athletes in 177 countries. With the support of more than 1.3 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 81,000 games and competitions throughout the year.
Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Lions Clubs International, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, The Safeway Foundation, and Safilo Group.
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