How it started:
Founded in 1961 by Eunice Shriver, when she saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. She also saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t even have a place to play.
In December of 1971, The U.S. Olympic Committee gave Special Olympics official approval as one of only two organizations authorized to use the name “Olympics” in the United States.
Special Olympics is now a global movement of people who want to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics programs are available for athletes free of charge. More than 5.3 million athletes and Unified Sports partners are involved in Special Olympics sports training and competition in approx. 170 countries. Offering year-round training and competition in 32 Olympic-style summer and winter sports
In May 2016, Mary Davis of Dublin, Ireland was named Chief Executive Officer. She is the first CEO from outside the U.S. in the organization's nearly 50-year history.
Over the years, Special Olympics has entered into partnerships with ESPN, Coca-Cola, P&G, Bank of America, and many more.
Special Olympics established Project Unify to bring together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities as teammates and the Healthy Athletes Initiative to which offers health screenings to athletes in need.
Since the Healthy Athletes program began, Special Olympics has become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.