From March 18th to March 25th, the country of Austria will be hosting the Special Olympic World Winter Games 2017 with over 2700 Special Olympic athletes and 1000 coaches from 170 countries in attendance along with 10,000 volunteers. Witnessing these inspirational examples of courage, accomplishment, and determination will be thousands in attendance with countless numbers watching from their television sets from homes all across the world. These athletes will be competing in Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Floor Hockey, Floorball, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, and Stick Shooting at locations in Schladming-Rohrmoos, Graz and Ramsau and will be televised via ESPN with live coverage of the opening ceremonies.
The Special Olympics was born in the 1950s and early 1960s when Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a member of the Kennedy family, saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. Upon realizing that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t even have a place to play, she decided to take action and thus, the Special Olympics was born. In July 1968, the first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois when 1000 individuals with intellectual disabilities from 26 states and Canada competed in track & field and swimming. Currently, there are nearly 200 million people worldwide with intellectual disabilities and the Special Olympics serves 5.3 million athletes and Unified Partners (people without intellectual disabilities) in 169 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 competitions throughout the year.