SPECIAL OLYMPICS: The making of a movement
Take a trip back in time to see the history of the Special Olympics inclusion revolution… and then make sure you are part of the next 50 years!
The Special Olympics movement stormed through its half a century milestone last year. That’s 50 years of social change. 50 years of uncompromising advocacy. 50 years of friendship and 50 years of inclusion. As the movement embarks on the next 50 years of inclusion and its leaders look to inspire an entire #unifiedgeneration starting with the World Games in Abu Dhabi next month we take a quick visual tour of then and now – how the Special Olympics movement changed the world.
In 1962 Eunice Kennedy Shriver begins a summer day camp, “Camp Shriver”, at her home in Maryland for young people with intellectual disabilities to realize their capabilities in sports and physical activities.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado, hosts the 1st International Special Olympics Winter Games in 1968 with more than 500 athletes competing in skiing and skating events.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics (LETR) is launched in Wichita, Kansas in 1981 after Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to raise awareness. LETR is now Special Olympics’ largest grassroots fundraiser, raising more than $56 million annually.
1986: The United Nations launches the International Year of Special Olympics under the banner “Special Olympics— Uniting the World.”
“A Very Special Christmas,” a benefit album featuring holiday music by top rock and roll performers, is released worldwide in 1987. This would become the most successful benefit series in music history.
Special Olympics Unified Sports is launched in 1987. Bowling, volleyball and softball are the first sports to be included.
The 5th Special Olympics World Winter Games are hosted in Austria in 1993. These are the first World Games held outside the US.
Healthy Athletes becomes an official Special Olympics initiative in 1997 providing health-care services to Special Olympics athletes worldwide. It includes free vision, hearing and dental screening, injury prevention clinics and nutrition education.
U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton host “A Very Special Christmas from Washington D.C.” in 1998 - marking the first time that the White House hosts a Special Olympics gala. Including songs performed by Eric Clapton, Jon Bon Jovi and many more
As part of the “Campaign for Special Olympics,” the Special Olympics China Millennium March is launched in 2000. Today, they are the Special Olympics largest Program with more than 1 million athletes.
The South African cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sun City host Special Olympics African Hope in 2001. President Nelson Mandela returns to Robben Island with Special Olympics athletes to light the “Flame of Hope” and kick off the Law Enforcement Torch Run through the streets of Cape Town.
The year 2003 saw Ireland hosts the first Special Olympics World Summer Games held outside the United States. With 6,500 athletes participating, it is Ireland’s largest sporting event of the year.
“The Ringer,” a Farrelly Brothers film starring Johnny Knoxville, opens in theaters in 2005. The film includes appearances from more than 150 Special Olympics athletes.
The city of Shanghai, China, hosts the 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2007 which are broadcast internationally on an unprecedented scale. 7,500 athletes from 164 countries took part. Picture shows Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the Games with an athlete.
In 2016 Special Olympics exceeds its ambitious goal of getting 1 million athletes and partners involved in Unified Sports, bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. There are now more than 1.2 million Unified teammates worldwide.
Last year Special Olympics launches global year-long 50th Anniversary celebrations, starting in Chicago and continuing around the world activities. Happy Birthday, Special Olympics!
2019! As the UAE gears up to host the Special Olympics World Games – the most unified Games ever and first time in the Middle East and North Africa region, everyone is called upon to join the Unified Generation and #MeetTheDetermined. Be a fan in the stands at the Games, join the movement, just get involved. Find more at www.meetthedetermined.com