Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) offers sports training and competition in 20 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.
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:
- Receive training in public speaking and become a Global Messenger for Special Olympics
- Become a coach for Special Olympics
- Receive free health screenings at SONC state-level events
- Serve on the planning committee with your local program
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.
Participation in Special Olympics is free!
Throughout North Carolina, Special Olympics athletes are stepping into meaningful leadership roles both on and off the field of play.
Special Olympics NC athletes serve in a variety of different leadership roles:
- Certified coaches and officials
- Serving on local committees, Games Management Teams and the SONC Board of Directors
- Athlete Ambassadors: athletes act as representatives for SONC at various functions to say thank you, assist with fundraising efforts and build awareness of the organizations.
- Global Messengers: athletes are trained to be spokespersons for Special Olympics and can recruit potential athletes, volunteers and sponsors through public presentations.
- Athlete Council: active SONC athletes from across the state who meet quarterly to provide input to the president of Special Olympics North Carolina on issues in the movement.
- Torch Run Athlete Ambassadors: assist in the managing, promoting, planning and coordinating the NC LETR activities throughout the state of North Carolina to benefit Special Olympics.
- Health Messenger: this athlete leads and supports their fellow teammates as they prepare for USA Games this summer by helping them reach their health goals so they can compete at the highest level and live a healthy life.
To learn more about athlete leadership opportunities in North Carolina, contact Kristine Hughes.