About Us

Mission...The mission of Special Olympics Ohio is to provide year-round sports training and competition opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Benefits...Special Olympics contributes to the physical, social, and psychological development of the athletes. Through successful experiences in sports, they gain confidence and build a positive self-image which carries over into the classroom, home, job and community.

History...The concept of Special Olympics began in the early 1960's when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The first national meet was held at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1968 for 1,000 athletes from the United States and Canada. Shortly thereafter, Ohio began a Special Olympics program under the name of the Ohio Athletic Association. Special Olympics Ohio became incorporated in 1975. Today, there are Special Olympics programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 150 different countries around the world.

Participants...Special Olympics Ohio has approximately 200 local member organizations and over 23,000 athletes who are in training and competition. These organizations originate from County Boards of MR/DD, public schools, developmental centers, parks and recreation departments, churches and parent and community groups.

Eligibility...Athletes must be at least eight years of age and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disability, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required special instruction.

Support...Special Olympics Ohio, Inc. is a non-profit corporation funded through private and corporate donations and fundraising projects across the state.

Volunteers...This organization is run almost entirely by volunteers. Over 12,000 individuals donate their time to provide the sports training and competition opportunities across the state.

Competitions...Special Olympics provides year-round competition opportunities for the athletes at the local, area and state levels. There are approximately 75 local and area events and Special Olympics Ohio hosts seven state-wide competitions each year. In addition, every 2 years Special Olympics Ohio sends a team of athletes to compete in the World Games which alternate between winter and summer sports.