Our Story

Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics with a vision that individuals with intellectual disabilities were far more capable in sports and physical activity than many experts believed possible. In 1968 Mrs. Shriver organized the first Special Olympics International Games in Chicago, Ill. Six athletes from North Carolina were among the participants.

Special Olympics North Carolina held its first Games in 1970 with 400 participants and has since grown to be recognized globally as one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world. Nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities participate in Special Olympics North Carolina.

Our Movement

Special Olympics North Carolina is one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world with nearly 40,000 registered athletes who train and compete in year-round programs in 19 different sports. Learn more about the difference between Special Olympics, the Paralympics and the Olympics. 

A voluntary Board of Directors serves as the governing body for Special Olympics North Carolina and employs a President/CEO responsible for carrying out programs and activities.  Twenty-four staff members based in five statewide offices work closely with volunteers to provide Special Olympics programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

These programs are organized by approximately 100 sub-accredited local programs throughout the state, and the involvement of more than 30,000 volunteers makes possible nearly 8,000 sport practices and 400 competition events at local, area, state, regional, and national levels each year.  Find out what is happening in your community and how you can get involved.

Special Olympics North Carolina is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating under Federal Tax ID 56-1149607.  Athletes in North Carolina are never charged a fee of any kind to participate in Special Olympics. Generous support from individuals, businesses, foundations, and civic groups helps fund the training facilities, uniforms, awards, equipment, transportation, and coaches’ education that are important to every athlete’s experiences.  Support Special Olympics North Carolina today, and give the power of sport to one more athlete.