While I was in high school, I began volunteering with the Special Olympics. My experience with the organization has changed my perspective of myself and the world around me. Their mission is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities."
The Special Olympics were founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Her sister, Rosemary, had intellectual disabilities, but Eunice quickly realized how sports could truly bring everyone together. Since then, the Special Olympics have empowered millions of individuals, and they have shifted the public’s perception of people with intellectual disabilities as well.
The Special Olympics have a variety of over 30 sports, ranging from basketball, bowling, powerlifting, volleyball, tennis, and many more. The Special Olympics have worked with k-12 students, college students, as well as any age beyond that. The idea of the Special Olympics is so simple, yet its effect is powerful. I’ve had friends with intellectual disabilities ever since I was a small child, and the environment they provide is so refreshing. At the Special Olympics, there aren’t any egos, rude mocking behaviors, or selfish people. The spirit of the event truly creates an encouraging place where everyone can just be who they are.
The pledge you hear before every event is “let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." I think this motto is a great saying that we can all carry with us in our own lives, and it reminds us to persevere.
For more information about how to volunteer or donate, you can visit their website.