About Us


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.



JUNE 1962

Eunice Kennedy Shriver identified a need to provide organized activities for children with intellectual disabilities. She founded a backyard day camp at her home in Potomac, Maryland under the name of Camp Shriver.  She continued to promote her efforts through the Kennedy Foundation and Camp Shriver became an annual event.  The Kennedy Foundation expanded Shriver’s day camp program by awarding grants to other organizations such as community  centers, recreational departments, and universities to create similar opportunities.

JULY 20, 1968

Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois hosted the inaugural International Special Olympics Summer Games. Athletes with intellectual disabilities from 26 U.S. States and Canada competed in track and field, swimming and floor hockey in the first-ever, one of a kind, organized sporting competition.


The U.S. Olympics Committee sanctioned Special Olympics as one of two organizations in the United States authorized to use the name “Olympics”.