The Special Olympics organization, founded in 1968, is celebrating its 50th anniversary of serving individuals with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Missouri was founded not long after, serving those in the Show-Me State since 1971.
“It’s a great organization that gives people who often get overlooked in society a chance to shine,” Amanda Castetter, Special Olympics Missouri development manager, said.
The Special Olympics organization allows those with intellectual disabilities to train and compete in 21 Olympic-style sports. The organization also offers a variety of programs – such as the Young Athletes, Unified Sports®, Athlete Leadership and Healthy Athletes® programs.
Athletes compete in local, regional and state competitions, with the potential to head to the USA Games and on to the World Games. This summer, Missouri will send more than 100 athletes, Unified Partners® and coaches from Special Olympics Missouri to the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, all vying for a chance to compete at the World Games in 2019.
As the Special Olympics organization celebrates half of a century in operation, commemorative fundraisers and events will be held throughout the year. Money raised locally stays local and goes toward training the 15,000 Special Olympics athletes in the state of Missouri.
“Once you come out to an event and see the pure joy on athletes’ faces, it’s hard not to get hooked,” Amanda said. “There’s never a bad day when you’re around our athletes. They have so much love and joy in their hearts. It’s contagious.”
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