Special Olympics History

The Special Olympics is a global movement that has been active for more than 43 years. It initially started as a summer camp in a backyard for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Today it is an international movement that has reached more than 100 countries all over the world.

The debut of the Special Olympics was in June 1963, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver decided to start a summer camp for children with disabilities. She was living in Maryland at the moment and came up with the idea that young individuals with intellectual disabilities might have a shot at performance by getting better in sports and other physical activities. The next step came in July 1968, 5 years later, when the first International edition was held. The event was also called the Summer Games and took place in Chicago, Illinois. Almost 1000 athletes from 26 states competed. Even Canada sent a team for the track, field and swimming categories.

The biggest and most important news related to the success of the competition came in 1971, when the event become official, being authorized and recognized by the US Olympic Committee. Six years later, the event gathered more than 500 athletes from various backgrounds who competed in the Winter Games that included skiing and ice skating. It was also the first time that major national networks like NBC, ABC and CBS decided to cover the event.

1997 marked the year when Special Olympics released their original initiative called Healthy Athletes, that has contact with local athletes from over 100 countries over the world and is helping them with free medical screenings and health info. In 1998, US President Bill Clinton hosted a Gala for Christmas, raising the popularity of the competition. Today, the Special Olympics are held in numerous countries outside US and have raised money of important causes like children in Africa.

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