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Run03
The Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run for Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) presented by the Sheetz family returned to Penn State on Blue White Weekend for a seventh consecutive year. More than 3,000 runners and walkers of all ages and abilities participated in a 3 mile... More
Central Spring - Trib
More than 300 athletes, 120 coaches, families, and friends representing Central Pennsylvania participated in Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Central Spring Sectional on Sunday, April 17th at Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. During the course of the event, athletes... More
Adam Butler Co - Pirate Game
Special Olympics Pennsylvania has been provided a limited number of tickets to Pittsburgh Pirates games during the 2016 regular season. These tickets are provided by Game Day Memories and occur sporadically throughout the season. The program is intended to create a memorable... More
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The 2016 Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Night at the 76ers featured nearly 80 athletes and more than 300 additional friends and family at the Wells Fargo Center to watch the Philadelphia 76ers clash with the Boston Celtics on March 20th. Although the Sixers did not win,... More
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Students with and without intellectual disabilities participated in the Interscholastic Unified Bocce State Championship prior to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Boy’s and Girl’s state basketball championships on Friday, March 18, 2016 at the... More
LETR 1
Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) has appointed David A. Mettin, Chief of Police for the Slate Belt Regional Police Department, to serve as its Assistant Statewide Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Director. The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is a year-round... More
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More than 370 athletes and 137 coaches from 20 Pennsylvania programs - plus the states of New York and Virginia - participated in some fast-paced competition during Special Olympics PA’s 10th Annual State Floor Hockey Tournament on March 5th and 6th at Bald Eagle Area High... More
2016 Plunge
The Polar Plunge is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations, and businesses to support local Special Olympics athletes by jumping or running into icy cold waters. Plunge participants take a quick dip in a river or pool to raise funds for Special Olympics... More
Hill Day 1
Special Olympics athletes, leaders, and family members from 39 states converged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on February 10th for Special Olympics’ 14th Annual “Capitol Hill Day.” Throughout the day, Special Olympics athletes from across the nation, including Special... More
More than 500 athletes and coaches from throughout Pennsylvania competed in the 2016 Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Winter Games held in Seven Springs and Johnstown, PA from February 7-9th. This statewide competition, that took place at Seven Springs Mountain Resort as... 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