Who We Are

About Special Olympics Indiana

Special Olympics Indiana is a nonprofit organization that is a part of the global Special Olympics movement, using sport, health, education, and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities.

Founded in 1969, Special Olympics Indiana has grown to more than 18,000 athletes and unified partners in virtually every county throughout the state. With the support of over 10,000 coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the participants.

Special Olympics Indiana receives no federal or state-appropriated funds, is not a United Way Agency, and relies entirely on corporate, civic and individual donations.


To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, offering them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.


At the core, Special Olympics is a sports organization that uses the power of sport as a catalyst for social change. Through sport, we challenge society. By highlighting how the needs of people with ID are not being met, we expose inequity and exclusion. By drawing attention to the gifts of people with ID, we break down misperceptions and tackle negative attitudes.

The vision of Special Olympics Indiana is that sport will open hearts and minds towards people with intellectual disabilities and create inclusive communities across the state and throughout the world.


Special Olympics Athlete Goal

The goal of Special Olympics Indiana is for all persons with intellectual disabilities to have the chance to become useful and productive citizens who are accepted and respected in their communities.

History of Special Olympics Indiana

Founded in 1969, Special Olympics Indiana (SO Indiana) provides a wide variety of opportunities for individuals with all levels of intellectual disabilities across all age ranges. SO Indiana is one of more than 50 Special Olympics affiliates in North America. The organization has grown steadily to now include more than 12,000 athletes, approximately 10,000 volunteers and 20 staff members.

The Special Olympics movement is distinct in its vision to empower all people with intellectual disabilities to realize their full potential and develop their skills through year-round sports training and competition. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 170 million people, or three percent of the world’s population, have intellectual disabilities—the largest disability population in the world. Intellectual disability knows no boundaries. It cuts across the lines of racial, ethnic, educational, social and economic backgrounds, and it can occur in any family.

Within SO Indiana, our focus is the growth of our year-round programs so that we can better serve our existing athletes and reach out to those athletes who have not yet had an opportunity to participate locally in Special Olympics. With the unifying power of sports at its core, SO Indiana has grown to be a movement not about “them,” but about all of “us.” We are a movement that invites the world to think, feel and act differently about everything. We believe in creating more unified communities—places where each person regardless of ability or disability, is accepted, respected and welcomed, and where each individual contributes to the strength and vibrancy of the whole.

Play Unified

What is Unified Sports?

Unified Sports® joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
Playing unified can be as easy as picking up a ball and inviting someone not quite like you to play. Or you can participate in an organized Unified Sports event.

Our opponent is intolerance. As long as we come together on the field of play, we can defeat it.

The Play Unified Campaign

Special Olympics has launched a fully integrated, multi-faceted marketing campaign targeting young people age 14 to 25 throughout the world. The Play Unified campaign will raise the profile of the Special Olympics brand among current and new advocates and supporters, and it will encourage young people to make a difference and help create more unified and just communities around the world. Those young people will be the Unified Generation.

This marketing campaign was developed by Young & Rubicam (Y&R) in conjunction with Special Olympics and others. This generation will come to embody the principles of our movement and in turn will shape the world into one in which respect, tolerance and equality prevail. We will inspire attitudes that lead to activity WITH our athletes, rather than an approach of doing things FOR our athletes. People with intellectual disabilities say they want to be included as equals in society. For more information, visit playunified.org.