Special Olympics

  • Special Olympics Summer Games

    The 1st International Special Olympics Summer Games are held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA. 1,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities from 26 U.S. states and Canada compete in track and field and swimming
  • Olympics Approval

    The U.S. Olympic Committee gives Special Olympics official approval as one of only two organizations authorized to use the name “Olympics” in the United States.
  • First Winter Games

    First Winter Games
    5-11 February 1977
    Steamboat Springs, Colorado, hosts the 1st International Special Olympics Winter Games with more than 500 athletes competing in skiing and skating events. CBS, ABC and NBC television networks cover the Games.
  • Torch Run

    Torch Run
    The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is launched in Wichita, Kansas (USA), where Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to increase awareness of Special Olympics. The Torch Run is now the movement's largest grassroots fundraiser, raising $30 million annually.
  • Banner

    Banner
    The United Nations in New York City launches the International Year of Special Olympics under the banner “Special Olympics—Uniting the World.”
  • IOC officially endorses and recognizes Special Olympics

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) signs a historic agreement with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in which the IOC officially endorses and recognizes Special Olympics.
  • Special Olympics Conference

    Special Olympics Conference
    Special Olympics Unified Sports® is launched at the annual Special Olympics Conference in Reno, Nevada, and Lake Tahoe, California. Bowling, volleyball and softball are the first sports to be included.
  • 5th Special Olympics World Winter Games

    5th Special Olympics World Winter Games
    20-27 March 1993
    The 5th Special Olympics World Winter Games are hosted in the beautiful Austrian cities of Salzburg and Schladming. These are the first World Winter Games held outside North America.
  • 30th anniversary

    Special Olympics celebrates its 30th anniversary with the introduction of 12 30th Anniversary Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers who travel the world as spokespeople for the movement for the next two years.
  • “Flame of Hope” at the Great Wall of China

    “Flame of Hope” at the Great Wall of China
    18-22 May 2000
    As part of the “Campaign for Special Olympics,” Arnold Schwarzenegger joins Special Olympics athletes to light the “Flame of Hope” at the Great Wall of China and launch the Special Olympics China Millennium March, kicking off the most ambitious growth campaign in the movement’s history. China pledges to increase its current number of athletes from 50,000 to 500,000 by 2005.
  • South Africa,

    12-14 July 2001
    Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sun City South Africa, host Special Olympics African Hope. Former President Nelson Mandela, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Special Olympics athletes gather to light the “Flame of Hope” and kick off the largest Law Enforcement Torch Run through the streets of Cape Town. The event generates awareness of the movement throughout the continent and marks the launch of a major growth initiative to reach 100,000 new athletes in Africa by 2005.
  • SO Get Into It™

    SO Get Into It™
    Special Olympics develops and distributes SO Get Into It™ kits for students with and without disabilities to schools and teachers worldwide at no cost. The kit teaches young people about intellectual disabilities while empowering them to “be the difference” by learning values of inclusion, acceptance and respect.
  • Unified Sports® program.

    Unified Sports® program.
    19-20 July 2002
    The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund partners with Special Olympics to host an annual birthday celebration for its founder and chairperson, former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and helps Special Olympics launch its Unified Sports® program.
  • Ireland hosts

    Ireland hosts
    21-29 June 2003
    Ireland hosts the first Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held outside the United States. 5,500 athletes participate in this landmark event. It is the largest sporting event in 2003, capturing the hearts and imaginations of the Irish people.
  • “Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act,

    “Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act,
    U.S. President George W. Bush signs the “Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act, “ which appropriates $15 million per year over five years to fund the growth of Special Olympics and support initiatives that foster greater respect and understanding for people with intellectual disabilities. The signing marks the first time that Special Olympics secures support through legislation
  • "The Ringer,"

    "The Ringer,"
    "The Ringer," a Farrelly Brothers film starring Johnny Knoxville, opens in theaters throughout Canada and the United States. The film includes appearances from more than 150 athletes. Its producers collaborate with Special Olympics to challenge destructive stereotypes and negative thinking about people with intellectual disabilities.
  • 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games,

    12th Special Olympics World Summer Games,
    The city of Shanghai, China, hosts the 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games, which are broadcast internationally on an unprecedented scale. These Games, with more than 7,500 athletes from 164 countries participating, are a historic moment in the movement’s history.
  • 40th anniversary

    40th anniversary
    Special Olympics celebrates its 40th anniversary as a true global movement, with almost 3 million athletes in more than 180 countries around the world
  • "a civil rights movement."

    The Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, USA, draws nearly 2,000 athletes from close to 100 countries . U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited and declared special needs advocacy "a civil rights movement."
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver

    Eunice Kennedy Shriver
    The U.S. National Portrait Gallery unveils a historic portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics. This historic painting is the first portrait the Gallery has ever commissioned of an individual who has not served as a U.S. President or First Lady.
  • The founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, dies

    The founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, dies
    The founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, dies at her family home in Massachusetts. Letters and messages celebrating her contribution to humanity poured in from world leaders and ordinary people around the world.
  • CD release

    "A Very Special Christmas 7" is released, infusing the Christmas record series with the energy and talent of a new generation of music stars. See www.veryspecialchristmas.org.
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day

    Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day
    The first Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day is more than 100 countries to celebrate the vision of the founder of Special Olympics and to accelerate the momentum of the Special Olympics movement.
  • next Special Olympics World Winter Games

    next Special Olympics World Winter Games
    Officials announce that the next Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in PyeongChang, Korea, on 26 Jan.-6 Feb., 2013.
  • The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games

    The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games
    The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games are held in Athens, Greece. Nearly 7,000 athletes from 170 countries take part