Special Olympian Diona Bell dashes by a group of U.S. Airmen to win the gold medal in the 100-meter run at the Mississippi Special Olympics Summer Games, hosted by Keesler Air Force Base (AFB) in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 2011.
Photograph by Kemberly Groue, courtesy U.S. Air Force

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    On July 20, 1968, athletes competed in the first Special Olympics International Games, held in Chicago, Illinois. The Special Olympics are a sporting event for people with intellectual disabilities. 
    The Special Olympics were developed by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Shriver was inspired by her older sister, Rosemary, who had an intellectual disability but continued to enjoy sports and other athletic activities. The Special Olympics grew out of “Camp Shriver”—held in Shriver’s own backyard—where Eunice created programs for young people with intellectual disabilities.
    About 160 athletes from the United States and Canada competed in the first Special Olympics. Today, more than four million athletes from 170 countries are involved in the program.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    athlete Noun

    person who participates or competes in sporting events.

    compete Verb

    to work against someone or something else for an award or acknowledgment.

    inspire Verb

    to influence to act.

    intellectual disability Noun

    range of learning disabilities that limit mental functioning and skills such as communicating, self-care, and social interaction.

    sport Noun

    athletic activity.