Orange County

Welcome to Special Olympics Orange County! More than 275 athletes train year-round in 12 different sports and compete in local and state-level events. Special Olympics Orange County partners with the Town of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation for use of facilities and equipment.

Our Goal:
The goal is for all persons with intellectual disabilities to have the chance to become useful and productive citizens who are accepted and respected in their communities.

Special News

What a beautiful and lovely evening we had at our annual SOOC Recognition Ceremony!  We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated athlete and volunteer base.  Much thanks goes to Debbie Everly, our program assistant, who single handedly organized the entire event!  She took some great photos here for you to review for those who were unlucky enough to miss the highlight of our award dinner. Another delicious meal was prepared by Mrs. Anne Hicks-Mitchell.  We had fabulous volunteer servers from all three of our local high schools.

Let me recap the awards here:

Featured Coach Speaker: Rich Green, Featured Athlete Speaker: Steven BurgerAthlete Commitment Awards: Pierre Crisp, Javi Guzman, Alexis TeplinCoach Commitment Awards: Bill McNairy, Brian Murray, Eric Rubenstein

Scroll through this list to see all of our 10, 15, 20, and 25 year longevity awards!

10 Year Awards: 

Athletes: Sarah Austin, Jeffrey Carin, Lucinda Farrow, Clyde Gattis, Matthew Harris, Katie Matthews, Cody Miller, Aaron Persons, Max Van Name

Coaches: Mike Despirito, Mary Dodson, Glenn Miller

15 Year Awards

Athletes: Gillian Fink, Christie Knudson, Max Kuller, Lana Morgan, Curtis Nold, Ahmad Rahman, Katie Robinson, Tyler Stopa

Coaches: John Blake. Kris O’Keefe

20 Year Awards

Athletes: Paul Conway, Robyn Dorton, Rawley Kabrick, Steffie Madden, Adam Ricci, Emily Wiley

Coaches: Steve Brauer, Pat Conway, Mark Fink. Melissa Spacek

And lastly, our 25 Year Awards!

Athletes: Joey Kessler, Richie Vaughan

Hope you can join the fun with us next year!  Colleen

Community-based Programs
Community-based programs run generally on Sunday afternoons and evenings, with games scheduled through the season.

  • Fall – soccer, bocce, golf, tennis
  • Winter – basketball, alpine skiing
  • Spring – softball, track, cycling, swimming
  • Summer – aquatics, equestrian

School-based Programs

School-based programming is offered to students in self-contained special education classrooms in Orange County and Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools.  With the guidance of adapted physical education instructors, teachers may elect to participate in recreational activities outside the classroom.

  • Fall -swimming
  • Spring – bowling


Unified Champion Schools

The following schools are pleased to be a part of Unified Champion Schools in Orange County: Carrboro High, Chapel Hill High and East Chapel Hill High.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools is an education and sports based program created by Special Olympics to build an inclusive environment among youth with and without intellectual disabilities as well as empower them to become youth leaders and speak up for change in their community. Learn more….Unified Champion Sports.

Support SO Orange County

The 2015-2016 season marks Special Olympics Orange County’s 27th year of athletic competition and programming!  We could not do it without our community’s generous financial support.  Thank you to those individuals and businesses that have supported us throughout the years.

You can help continue this invaluable program by donating today!!  We can’t do it without your support!

Sports Offered

Alpine Skiing




Tuesdays, September 1-November 1 (Community Ctr)





Wednesdays, September 2-November 4 (Occoneechee)


Sundays, August 30-November 1 (Finley Fields)



Saturdays, August 29-October 31 (CH Tennis)

Contact Information

Local Program Coordinator

Colleen Lanigan

200 Plant Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919-968-2810 (W)
919-932-2923 (F)

Community Resource Director – East

Lauren Bruce

919-719-7662 x106

VP of Community Resources

Lindsay Waldron

704-358-1935 x161

2016 Competition Opportunities

Unified Basketball Game, Saturday  March 5 (Durham)

Global Messengers

Global Messengers are Special Olympics athletes who have been trained in public speaking to serve as ambassadors for the organization.  They can recruit potential athletes, volunteers and sponsors through public presentations. To schedule a Global Messenger appearance, please contact the local coordinator.

  • Gillian Fink
  • Kerry Hagner
  • Annie Tane
  • Dani Kinert
  • Brandon Barbaro