MOHAVE COUNTY – Globally, The Special Olympics is a network of people who have and continue to develop an environment where everyone in the world is accepted.

Regardless of the challenges they face, The Special Olympics helps others to see the world in a new light

The journey to help children and adults with intellectual disabilities began in 1962 with philanthropist Eunice Kennedy Shriver.  Shriver witnessed the mental challenges of her sister Rosemary throughout her life.

Rosemary became Shriver’s inspiration and she created a Summer day camp for mentally challenged children and adults.  

The camp was created to provide people with disabilities a chance to unwrap their abilities through sports.

The day camp also helped in developing physical strengths of the athletes.  

Shriver’s dream empowered many and by 1968, the first International Special Olympics was born.  

The event took place at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL.  The competition included track and field and swimming.

Some 1,000 athletes participated from the US and Canada.  By 1975, Shriver’s mission expanded to Arizona with the first Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ).  

The one day event had 100 athletes and 20 volunteers.  Throughout the years, these numbers have increased. 

Presently, The Special Olympics has 21 sports, 4 statewide competitions for 21,461 athletes, 675 regional competitions, and 24,743 volunteers at annual competitions.  SOAZ has extensive health assistance, leadership programs, and art programs for people of all ages and skill sets.  

Through the support of SOAZ, athletes, families, and individuals are able to explore tools and stay active in their programs and resources.  Shriver’s vision was to transform the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities all over the world and to create more tolerant behaviors for all. That vision is what The Special Olympics strives to maintain daily.

The Special Olympics is well known for ongoing fundraisers and support from the community.  

One of their biggest supporters comes from law enforcement. Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), fundraises over $1 million a year.  

The funds raised are given directly back to The Special Olympics family.  As a result, their charitable acts produce more opportunities for the athletes.  

Additionally, The Special Olympics hosts Breakfast with Champions annually.  This unique event brings the community together and attendees can meet leadership and learn about the impacts the organization has made in people’s lives.  

This month, The Special Olympics is having a bocce meet on Saturday, September 23 beginning at 9 a.m.  at Lake Havasu City’s Rotary Park.  Teams from Bullhead City and Kingman will be joining them.

To learn more about events at The Special Olympics, or to become a volunteer please visit Special Olympics Arizona | Explore Capabilities.

Phaedra Veronique