The concept of Special Olympics began in the early 1960s when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for people with intellectual disabilities. The first national meet was held at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1968 for 1,000 athletes from the United States and Canada. Shortly thereafter, Ohio began a Special Olympics program under the name of the Ohio Athletic Association. Special Olympics Ohio became incorporated in 1975.
Today, Special Olympics Inc. is the world’s largest provider of fitness training, education, and athletic competition — coupled with health, social, life, and leadership skill development opportunities — for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics is a worldwide movement of more than 5 million athletes in 174 countries. With competitions around the world, daily training sessions and family leaders, athlete leaders and volunteers extending our message every day, Special Olympics is no longer just an event. We are a movement, inviting the world not only to attend Games but to think, feel and act differently about everything.