It all began in the 1950s and early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. She also saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t even have a place to play. She decided to take action.

Read more about the 1960s HERE.



An idea that started in the USA begins to spread across the globe. Stigma facing people with intellectual disabilities is slowly being replaced with respect and admiration — on the playing fields and off.

Read more about the 1970s HERE.



The Special Olympics movement continue to grow and to gain respect in the 1980s.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) signs a historic agreement with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver officially endorsing and recognizing Special Olympics.

Read more about the 1980s HERE.



The first International Games are held outside the USA, as Special Olympics gains a greater global foothold. New health programs mark a turning point as well.

Read more about the 1990s HERE.



The Unified Sports program grew rapidly in the 2000s. People with and without intellectual disabilities teamed up in a growing number of countries worldwide.

Read more about the 2000s HERE.



This decade our Unified Sports program exceeds 1 million participants; our Health program expands dramatically thanks to public and private investment; and the number of athletes with ID and Unified Sports teammates reaches 5.3 million.

Read more about the 2010s HERE.



Special Olympics Kansas is proud to be part of 50 years of empowerment, sports and health, athlete leadership, transformation and joy. Join with us as we embark on the next 50 years of inclusion. 

The revolution is inclusion. #ChooseToInclude

Commemorate the first 50 years of Special Olympics with a 50th Anniversary Coin or Pin.

Limited quantities available.

Click HERE to order yours today.

Questions? Contact Luke Schulte at

Special Olympics Kansas History

Six athletes from Kansas participated in the first Special Olympics summer games in July 1968.

In 1970 the first Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Parsons State Hospital and Training Center with 300 participants.

In 1977 Kansas had the second largest contingent behind host state Colorado at the first International Winter Games in Steamboat Springs, Co.

In 1979 as a result of tremendous growth, it was decided that Special Olympics could, and should, stand alone and the organization was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.