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Special Olympics' History

The Special Olympics is the story of one woman's vision that evolved into an international program that brings hope to mentally handicapped persons and their famiilies.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver believed persons with mental handicaps had far greater athletic abilities than society gave them credit. She also believed they would benefit greatly from participation in competitive sports that were adapted to their capabilities. She saw them as capable and able athletes.

In the early 1960's, Mrs. Shriver held day camps of organized competitive sporting activities at her home that catered to the athlete's capabilities. In 1968, she had organized the first International Special Olympics Games and the event was held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The games attracted more than 1,000 athletes from the United States and Canada who competed in track and field, and aquatic events.

From that exciting beginning, the Special Olympics has grown into the world's largest year-round program of physical fitness, sports training, and athletic competition for persons who are mentally handicapped. It is estimated that more than one million special athletes participate in Special Olympic programs in over 140 countries and in every state in the Union.

The Wichita Independents are thankful to Eunice Kennedy Shriver's vision. Hopefully we show her our gratitude every day by helping the athlete's reach their full potential.