Be a Fan of Inspiration ...

"When I first started playing two years ago, I wasn't that good," Bowers said. "I am better at the game now because I practice all the time."

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Be a Fan of Inclusion ...

Sanders found a new meaning to life when he joined Special Olympics. He said that being a part of this is keeping him off the streets and it's something to look forward to because he made new friends.

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Be a Fan of Sport ...

Martinez, who is from Sullivan County and is coached by Melissa Ebeling, believes that the Special Olympics has helped him stay motivated as well keeping positive.

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History & Mission

Special Olympics in WNY is a most heart-warming organization, providing memorable and rewarding opportunities for both athletes and volunteers. I was recently able to attend a local awards ceremony, where area athletes were honored for their achievements. The pride of the athletes, their parents, and staff mentors was contagious. I am honored to be able to assist Special Olympians through fundraising efforts at United Way of Cattaraugus County, Inc. Thinking of the positive impact that Special Olympics has on so many lives gives me the desire to work harder on behalf of such a quality organization.

- Candace Plants, CEO, United Way of Cattaraugus County, Inc


Our founder, Dorothy Buehring Phillips, established the Special Olympics New York program in 1969. That same year, New York sent a delegation of athletes and coaches to the Northeast Regional Special Olympics competition in Boston, Massachusetts. Special Olympics New York was fully incorporated in 1970 and Phillips was appointed the first State Director. In June, 1970, the first State Summer Games were held in Rochester.

Today, we serve 64,659 (2013 census) athletes, making Special Olympics New York the largest program in the United States and the sixth largest program in the world. Special Olympics New York has its headquarters in Schenectady, with offices in the Long Island, New York City, Hudson Valley, Central, Western, Capital and Genesee regions.

To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of skills and friendship with their families, Special Olympics athletes and the community. Through their participation in Special Olympics New York athletes gain confidence and build a positive self-image, which carries into the classroom, the home, the workplace and the community.

Special Olympics New York is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and is funded primarily by donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. Special Olympics New York never charges athletes, their families or caregivers to train or compete.