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What is SOPA's Mission?

What purpose does SOPA, the state office, serve?

Who can participate in Special Olympics?

How many athletes does SOPA serve?

How many volunteers does SOPA have?

What competitions are offered by SOPA?

What sports are offered by SOPA?

What are the benefits of Special Olympics?

What makes Special Olympics unique?

Where does SOPA's funding come from?


What is SOPA’s Mission?  

Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year-round athletic training and competition in 22 Olympic-type sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities and provides them with continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness skills, express courage, and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

What purpose does Special Olympics Pennsylvania, the state office, serve?

Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) is the accrediting body for more than 50 area, county and city programs within Pennsylvania. The individuals who act as area and county managers and comprise their management teams are primarily volunteers. They raise funds, oversee volunteers, and help recruit athletes, while providing the all-important training and competition opportunities for their local athletes.

Who can participate in Special Olympics?

An athlete must be at least 6 years old (8 years old to attend competitions) and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: an intellectual disability, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay.

How many athletes does SOPA serve?

 More than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities participate in over 260 local, sectional and state events.  Athletes range in age from 8 to 80 and are of all ability levels.

How many volunteers does SOPA have?

 Nearly 40,000 volunteers provided the manpower for Special Olympics Pennsylvania last year. Volunteers of all ages serve as coaches, escorts, organizers, fund-raisers, entertainers, or sports officials. Volunteers are always needed!

What competitions are offered by SOPA?

Special Olympics Pennsylvania competitions are offered year-round in 56 local programs across Pennsylvania. Special Olympics Pennsylvania conducts four statewide competitions -- Fall Festival, State Floor Hockey Tournament, Summer Games, and Winter Games.

What sports are offered by SOPA?

Special Olympics Pennsylvania offers training and competition in the following events:




Aquatics (Swimming)

Athletics (Track & Field)









Long Distance Running/Walking


Roller Skating



Alpine Skiing

Cross Country Skiing

Figure Skating

Floor Hockey

Speed Skating

Snow Shoeing

What are the benefits of Special Olympics?

A 1995 study by Yale University confirmed that Special Olympics contributes to the physical, social and psychological development of people with intellectual disabilities. Through successful experiences in sports, they gain confidence and build a positive self-image that carries over into the classroom, the home, the job, and the community.

What makes Special Olympics unique from other organizations?

  • Sports opportunities for all ability levels
  • Divisioning for equitable competition (sports separation by ability)
  • Awards for all participants
  • Random draw for advancement to higher levels of competition
  • No fees charged to athletes or family members

Where does SOPA’s funding come from?

 Special Olympics Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that raises the funds through the generosity of individuals, companies, and foundations.