what we Do

Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries -- and millions more volunteers and supporters. We are also a global social movement.

For the past 50 years, Special Olympics has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the chance.

With training and competitions in 32 Olympic-style sports, our athletes push hard and play harder. They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again. From the local ballfields to the shining stage of the World Games, from swimming to snowboarding, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities.


Special Olympics Tennessee holds over 100 competitions each year at the local, regional and state level.  Additionally, athletes have the opportunity to compete every four years at the USA Games and World Games.

Local and State Event Calendar
USA Games

World Games
- Special Olympics USA
Sports Rules

Unified Sports

Team sports bring people together. Special Olympics Unified Sports® teams do that, too and much more. Half a million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities in a really fun way.

Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability, which makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away.

This past May, Special Olympics Tennessee and the TSSAA partnered to host the inaugural Unified High School Track Meet.  The event, held in conjunction with the High School State track Finals, featured teams from 8 schools across the state.  Teams consisted of 4-6 Special Olympics Athletes and 4-6 Unified Partners who competed in the Long Jump, Shotput, 100M Dash, 200M Dash and the 4x100 Relay.  Congratulations to Hardin Valley who took home the first ever High School Unified State Championship.  Any High Schools interested in starting a Unified Track team can contact Lauren Simpson at lsimpson@specialolympicstn.org. Click here for a short recap of the 2018 Unified Track and Field.

Downloads and Links

Get Downloadable Unified Sports Resources
NFHS Unified Sports Online Course

USA Games

Every four years, Special Olympics conducts a USA Summer Games in the United States that includes athletes from all 52 US Programs. Seattle, Washington was proud to have been selected as host of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. The games will take place July 1-6th, 2018. 

Team Tennessee will be taking a delegation of 59 athletes and 17 coaches to the 2018 USA Games. Athletes, and Unified Partners will be competing in the following sports: swimming, track and field, bocce, bowling, golf, powerlifting, tennis, unified basketball, unified volleyball, and traditional flag football. To support Team Tennesse with your donation, click here and you can designate to a specific athlete, partner or the entire team.

Athletes must medal in a state level competition in 2017 to be eligible for the 2018 games.

Coaches are selected through an application process.

For more information about the games and how to get involved as a coach or have an athlete attend please contact our office.

Young Athletes

Young Athletes™ is a unique sport and play program for children with intellectual disabilities. The focus is on fun activities that are important to mental and physical growth.
Children ages 2 to 7 enjoy games and activities that develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Young Athletes is an early introduction to sports and to the world of Special Olympics. The children learn new things, play and have lots of fun!

To get involved, email Joanne Drumright at jdrumright@specialolympicstn.org


Healthy Athletes
United Healthcare logo

At more than 1.4 million free health examinations in more than 120 countries, the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program offers health services and information to athletes in dire need. In the process, Special Olympics has become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics Tennessee Healthy Athletes currently offers free health screenings in the following areas:
Fit Feet (podiatry), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest (sports physical exam), Opening Eyes (vision).

 Typically the free Healthy Athlete Screenings are held during a state competition event, but some are standalone events. Medical professionals from the community volunteer to provide the health screenings.  For more information about the Healthy Athlete program, please contact Joanne Drumright at jdrumright@specialolympicstn.org.

Law Enforcement Torch Run

The mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR), established in 1981, is Special Olympics largest grassroots fundraiser. The mission of LETR is to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics movement. Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into Opening Ceremonies of local competitions. They also carry it into Special Olympics State, Provincial, National, Regional and World Games. There are over 97,000 law enforcement members that carry the “Flame of Hope” annually. The flame symbolizes courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe. Over 150,000 law enforcement officers in all 50 states, 12 Canadian provinces and 48 countries carry the “Flame of Hope” annually. TN LETR Council Member and Detective Metro Nashville Police Department Herb Kajihara said, “I have been a police officer since 1993 and I am proud to say that I have been associated with the torch run program since the beginning of my law enforcement career. Doing what we do in law enforcement, one can get cynical because of all the bad we see. But through strong faith in the Lord, my family and participating in Special Olympics torch run, it keeps me grounded and shows me that there is good in the world.”