Sports are a powerful tool. They provide growth in self-esteem, social skills, physical fitness and leadership. But most importantly, sports give people the chance to be included and build relationships and friendships that last a lifetime. With sports as the driving force, Special Olympics Minnesota has been leading the charge on making Minnesota more inclusive for people with intellectual disabilities.

Our mission is to create a new world of inclusion and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities. We do this by providing year-round sports training and athletic competitions, inclusive healthcare programs, leadership and advocacy training, and inclusive school programs.


We envision a Minnesota where every person, regardless of their ability, has every opportunity to thrive and reach their fullest potential.

What Special Olympics Minnesota isn’t

Myth: Special Olympics is one event that happens every four years.
Truth: Special Olympics is a movement happening 365 days a year. We host 100 different events every year that range from sports competitions to inclusive health fairs to the Polar Plunge and more! 

Myth: Special Olympics is just for children with intellectual disabilities.
Truth: Special Olympics is for everyone. Our programs are available for all ages and all abilities. This inclusive movement is made up of many roles: volunteers, coaches, team assistants, athletes, Unified partners and more! Learn more about the role that’s right for you.

Myth: Special Olympics only focuses on sports.
Truth: While sports are at the core of Special Olympics Minnesota’s mission, we also provide health & wellness, leadership, and school programs that focus on community inclusion. 

Myth: Special Olympics events are not competitive. 
Truth: Special Olympics events are competitive and athletes train and compete in sports to showcase their skills, abilities, and determination. We foster an environment of fair competition, allowing athletes to challenge themselves and strive for personal bests. Athletes earn awards for placing in 1st-8th place.

2022 achievements

41 local competitions + USA Games in Orlando

Sports are the heart and soul of Special Olympics Minnesota. In 2022, we hosted 41 competitions for over 5,700 athletes across the state and more than 150 athletes, Unified partners, coaches and staff represented Minnesota at the 2022 USA Games in Orlando. The sportsmanship was off the charts, and Special Olympics Minnesota’s largest USA Games delegation in history came home with medals clanking and memories to last a lifetime.

2,500+ health screenings

Special Olympics continues to make big strides in inclusive healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities. A highlight of this year was Special Olympics Minnesota’s first-ever Inclusive Community Health Fair, where over 500 screenings in six disciplines and 180 vaccinations were administered.

25% more Unified Champion Schools

In 2022, over 45 new schools partnered with Special Olympics Minnesota to implement inclusive programming and activities. There are now more than 200 Unified Champion Schools in Minnesota, and partnerships continue to grow in larger districts including Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Young Athletes expands reach

Our Young Athletes program is expanding its reach in northern Minnesota through a partnership with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Head Start. We sent Young Athletes equipment and resources to six centers that are serving more than 200 participants.

Looking ahead

2022 was a fantastic year for Special Olympics Minnesota, and we’re confident that 2023 will be even better.

  • With 31 regional and 14 state competitions in the works, we’ll provide athletes from all corners of Minnesota with even more chances to compete and shine.
  • 2023 marks our 50th anniversary, and we’re looking forward to celebrating five decades of inclusion in Minnesota (and planning for the next 50 years!).
  • In early 2023, we announced that the 2026 USA Games will be hosted right here in Minnesota. USA Games will be held in June 2026, and Special Olympics Minnesota is proud to play a part in the long planning process. We look forward to welcoming thousands of athletes, coaches, volunteers and fans to our great state in just a few short years!
  • Inclusive healthcare will continue to be a big focus for us. As our athletes continue to return to our events after the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a need for more health care than ever before. We’re excited to continue providing excellent free healthcare to people with intellectual disabilities in Minnesota.
  • Our clinical directors and health volunteers are making more referrals for urgent follow-up care to ensure that our athletes can continue to play the sports they love.
  • We’re also offering necessary sports physicals at our health events, allowing athletes to update medical records that may have expired during the pandemic.