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We are proud to share with you some exciting news: Special Olympics has partnered with iMyne, a free, sustainable fundraising site, which allows you to shop your heart out for Special Olympics every time you purchase from the sites you love. And the best part? You'll earn... More
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Students with and without intellectual disabilities participated in a Unified Indoor Bocce Invitational prior to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Boy’s and Girl’s state basketball championships on March 20, 2015. The Bocce Invitational took place... More
Castello with full group
Delegations of Special Olympics athletes, Program leaders, and family members from 39 states participated in Special Olympics’ 12th Annual “Capitol Hill Day” on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (Pictured from left to right): Jerry Holy, Project UNIFY Coordinator at Special Olympics... More
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The 3rd Annual Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Night at the 76ers was a huge success. Nearly 500 athletes, coaches, supporters, volunteers and families came to the Wells Fargo Center for an evening of memorable experiences on Saturday, March 14th. In addition to watching... More
Sam’s Club, an American chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs owned and operated by Walmart, held a national employee fundraising campaign from January 1, 2015 through February 16, 2015 with Special Olympics programs as the beneficiary. The campaign raised more than... More
Golf Training
On Tuesday, February 17th, in preparation for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, Bank of America hosted a Golf Training Camp for Special Olympics athletes from the United States and Canada at Griffith Park’s Wilson Golf Course. Local Special Olympics athlete Bobby Robbins... More
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Check out how our seven statewide polar plunges did this season! A huge thank you is extended to our corporate sponsors and plunge participants. Winter Games Polar Plunge York County Polar Bear Plunge 10th Annual Capital Area Polar Plunge Eastern Polar Plunge Beaver County... More
More than 350 athletes and 175 coaches travelled to the 2015 Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Winter Games, presented by Lee Initiatives, Inc., held in Seven Springs and Johnstown, PA from February 8th - 10th. This statewide competition, taking place at Seven Springs... More
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Special Olympics Pennsylvania is proud to announce that 8 athletes, 1 Unified Partner, 4 coaches, and 1 medical volunteer have been named to represent PA at the World Summer Games. Our PA participants, who are a part of a 491 member delegation, will represent the United... More

Sports at the Core

Special Olympics sports are transformative experiences that bring out pride, courage and joy in athletes – while inviting families and entire communities to join in the celebration. The Special Olympics sports experience has always been rooted in a radical notion: That every person has the capacity to be an Olympian, and that human greatness is defined more by the spirit than the body.

Sports are at the heart of Special Olympics because they are universal. Sports are understood and celebrated by all people, regardless of race, nationality, gender, economic level, religion and— thanks in large part to Special Olympics—intellectual ability. Athletes with and without intellectual disabilities compete according to the same rules and have the same motivations, the same goals, and reap the same benefits.[i]

Special Olympics is the world’s leading voice in elevating awareness of the needs and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Sports are at the heart, but our ultimate goal is to use stories of athletes’ achievements, skills and challenges to educate, engage and ultimately change attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities.

Measurable Life Enhancement

The Special Olympics experience fills a critical need in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, and the demonstration of competence to themselves, their families and the community. The improvements athletes make in social skills and friendships are often dramatic.   Special Olympics athletes learn developmental and life skills as the benefits of participation translate beyond sports, helping them to live more independent and rewarding lives. [ii]

By providing a platform for achievement and a large social network of teammates, coaches, family members and community groups, Special Olympics makes a measurable difference in the lives of athletes. In fact, at least 80% of families in the United States say they have seen improvements in their athletes’ self esteem, self confidence, social skills, friendships and health thanks to their participation in Special Olympics.[iii]

Special Olympics involvement also has positive effects on how family members relate to one another and to their athlete. A majority of parents in the U.S. (70%) report that Special Olympics has a positive effect on time spent as a family, either increasing the amount of time spent together or increasing the types of shared activities. This outlook is shared by siblings as well – 82% of who feel that Special Olympics has a positive impact on their family.[iv]

Anecdotal evidence suggests that volunteering with Special Olympics has a positive effect on all groups that work with the organization. Volunteers report a wide variety of benefits including personal satisfaction, increased tolerance, and re-examination of personal values.

Research indicates that Special Olympics can have a positive effect on members of the general public who have no relationship with the organization other than knowing about it, hearing others talk about it, and seeing its events on television or reading about them in the news. While it is harder to measure its effect on the general public, it is clear that the public in many places around the world is influenced by Special Olympics.Nonetheless, much progress still needs to be made for people with intellectual disabilities to be treated as equals in communities around the world. [v]

There are 381,071[vi] individuals with intellectual disabilities living in the State of Pennsylvania; 5.2% are enrolled in the Special Olympics Pennsylvania program. It is very important for us to continue our mission and to provide opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities whereby they are accepted, respected, and given the chance to become useful and productive citizens.[vii]

[i]Norins Bardon, J., Harada, C. M., Parker, R.C., and Brecklinghaus, S. (2008). Evaluation of the Special OlympicsEurope/Eurasia Unified Football Pilot-Project:Findings from Austria, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. Special Report for Special Olympics International. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Boston/Special Olympics Global Collaborating Center

[ii] Impact of Special Olympics Families, Special Olympics Toolkit

[iii]Siperstein, G.N., Harada, C.M., Parker, R.C., Hardman, M. L., McGuire, J. (2005) A Comprehensive Study of Special Olympics Programs in the United States. A Special Report for Special Olympics International. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Boston/Special Olympics Global Collaborating Center

[iv] ibid

[v] Special Olympics, Inc. (2009) Serving Athletes, Families, and the Community, the Universal Impact of Special Olympics: Challenging the Barriers for People with Intellectual Disability.

[vi] World Health Organization

[vii] Special Olympics North America