Become An Athlete


Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) offers sports training and competition in 19 Olympic-type sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Individuals eight years old and up can compete and Young Athletes is available for children ages 2-7.

Participation in Special Olympics is free!

Eligible individuals must be identified by a medical agency or professional as having an intellectual disability. Some Special Olympics athletes may also have a physical disability, but it is their developmental disability that qualifies them to participate in Special Olympics.

If you do not have an intellectual disability, but are interested in competing alongside your friend, sibling, etc. who does qualify for Special Olympics, you can do so through Unified Sports!

The ability levels of Special Olympics athletes range greatly.  The best thing is that no matter where an athlete falls in terms of ability, they have the opportunity to win a gold medal as they are divisioned in competitive groupings with their peers!

In addition to demonstrating your true abilities as a competitor, there are many other ways you can excel in Special Olympics. Did you know that as an athlete, you can:

Competition Outside North Carolina

There are occasionally opportunities for athletes to compete in events outside of the state. For those events that are simply open for anyone to participate, you can work with your local coordinator to express an interest.

For events which offer North Carolina a very specific number of athletes who can compete, a random drawing of gold medal winners from the most recent state-level event occurs to begin selections for these slots.

Athlete Oath

This oath is recited by an SONC athlete during Opening Ceremonies at all state-level events.

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Athlete Leaders

Our Athlete Council is made up of athletes from across the state who meet with the president of Special Olympics North Carolina quarterly to discuss organizational issues.

Global Messengers are trained spokespersons for the organization and give speeches on behalf of SONC. Existing Global Messengers may find resources here.

View Master Calendar

Becoming An Athlete

A completed Athlete Participation Packet must be turned in to your local program. As part of the athlete participation packet, the new or returning athlete must have a medical examination done by a certified medical professional (doctor, physicians assistant or registered nurse practitioner).

Athlete Participation Packet – Spanish Version

New as of August 2018: All athletes are required to complete this packet every three years.


There are many resources available for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families. Special Olympics North Carolina has selected a small sample of the variety of resources.

Athlete Code of Conduct

All participating athletes are expected to abide by this code of conduct.