What’s Special Olympics?

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Special Olympics provides athletes with intellectual disabilities the chance to compete in 30 Olympic-type sports, improving self-confidence and motor skills. It relies on volunteers and donations to facilitate financial support. It is not the same as the Paralympics, which serves athletes with physical disabilities.

The Special Olympics offers athletes, many of whom have conditions such as Down syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome, the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in 30 different Olympic-type sports. Training runs year-round and events are held for both summer and winter sports.
Today, Special Olympics is the largest organization in the world dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities. There are over 200 of these programs taking place in 160 countries around the world. Special Olympics events have been held in the United States, as well as countries such as China, India, Rwanda, Japan, Ireland, and Afghanistan.

Participating in these events offers many advantages. Athletes improve their self-confidence, stay physically fit, and develop stronger motor skills by meeting new friends. For many athletes, having the chance to excel in their chosen sport also provides a sense of accomplishment that lingers long after the event has passed. However, the Special Olympics oath of “Let me win. But if I can’t win, let me be brave in trying” helps remind participants that the effort they put in is as valuable as the results of the competition.

Since Special Olympics is a non-profit organization, it relies heavily on the support of volunteers. Each year, over 700,000 people contribute their time and talents to ensure the success of this memorable event. Athletes’ parents, friends, teachers and siblings are encouraged to volunteer their time to support the organization. There are also volunteer opportunities for college students, healthcare professionals, law enforcement officers, amateur athletes, and members of local civic groups.

The Special Olympics also facilitated financial support for the organization. It has corresponded with thousands of employers across the United States, enabling interested individuals to double or triple the value of their tax-deductible donations. The organization also accepts donations of frequent flyer miles to help defray transportation costs for athletes and their families.

Although the Special Olympics are sometimes confused with the Paralympics, it should be noted that these organizations serve two completely different purposes. The Paralympics offer elite competition opportunities in 25 different sports for athletes with physical disabilities.

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