Special Olympics offers kids with intellectual disabilities year-round training and competition in 26 Olympic-type summer and winter sports. Athletes aged eight and older of all abilities are welcome. Through their participation, Special Olympians are able to experience the thrill of winning and the agony of defeat. They also enjoy that special bond that comes with being part of a team. And, it is the sense of friendship and community that draws athletes and their families to the organization. There is no charge to participate in Special Olympics.
To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, participants must be identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specifically designed instruction. Participation Forms, Physical Release Forms and Registration Forms can be found on Special Olympics Iowa website.
Iowa is divided into nine regions. The Des Moines metro area is in the West Central Area region. Regional sports events precede state games, which are actually many events held throughout the year. The summer games are scheduled for May 21st -23rd at Iowa State University in Ames and include track and field, swimming, bocce ball, cycling, soccer and tennis. Still other state games are held in fall and winter. Special Olympians can go on to participate in the USA and World Games. Events are FREE to attend and you can view the complete schedule online.
With 12,000 registered athletes and more than 90 events, volunteers are the heart of the Special Olympics organization. Many volunteers first attend events as supporters, cheering on friends and neighbors as they race across the finish line. There are countless ways to pitch in, volunteer positions include: Coach/Chaperone, Trainer/Clinician, Official, Competition/Special Event Management, Professional Sports Photographers, Day-of Event Volunteers, Area Management Team Volunteers and Healthy Athlete Clinician. Find volunteer opportunities, on Special Olympic Iowa’s website.
Many businesses and organizations partner with Special Olympics Iowa to host fun activities and events, like the Polar Plunge, to raise awareness and funds that support the organization’s programs and services. Special Olympics Iowa also offers a wide range of sponsorship and donation opportunities.
The Special Olympic Athlete’s Oath, “Let me win. But if I cannot win. Let me brave in the attempt.”, expresses what the organization is truly all about. Special Olympics often becomes a way of life for both athletes and volunteers. There is no question that it can change lives.
Special Olympics Iowa
P.O. Box 620
Grimes, IA 5011
Phone: (515) 986-5520
Please share your experiences with Special Olympics in the comments section below.