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.

2023 achievements

SOMN Teammates from the Flames post for a photo.

52 Events & Competitions

Sports are the heart and soul of Special Olympics Minnesota. In 2023 we hosted more than 52 events and competitions, featuring 16 different sports. From snowshoeing to gymnastics and bocce ball to flag football, we offer year-round activities to keep our athletes engaged and active. These events give our athletes an opportunity to shine, as well as spend time with their friends and teammates.

3,000+ health screenings

Special Olympics continues to make strides in inclusive healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Minnesota’s hosted Healthy Athletes screenings year-round and administered more than 3,000 free health screenings to people with intellectual disabilities. The goal of Healthy Athletes is to combat health disparities and keep athletes performing at their best.

A student wearing a purple "Live Unified" shirt smiles at the Live Unified event at Target Center,

300 Unified Champion Schools

In 2023, we continued to expand our Unified Champion School program, ensuring that students with intellectual disabilities are fully included in their schools. There are now more than 300 schools in Minnesota committed to fostering an inclusive environment by utilizing Special Olympics Minnesota’s programs and resources.

SOMN community celebrates its 50th anniversary at Mall of America.

Community Engagement

This year we strengthened our ties with communities across Minnesota. We hosted outreach programs and events beyond our sports competitions that raise awareness for the inclusion and acceptance of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Events like the Polar Plunge, Plane Pull and our 50th anniversary celebration engaged more than 20,000 Minnesotans in 2023. These efforts are essential to our long-term mission of creating a more inclusive society.

Looking ahead

As we step into 2024, we are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. Our mission to provide sports, health, education and community programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities remains steadfast. In the coming year, we are more committed than ever to our mission and are eager to bring about positive change in the lives of our athletes. We will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, breaking down barriers and fostering a more inclusive society. We are committed to making our 51st year even more remarkable than our 50th.

As we look forward to hosting the Special Olympics USA Games in 2026, an event that will bring 100,000 people to Minnesota, our primary goal is to continue growing our mission and impact. To do this, we must expand our coaching network. More coaches mean more opportunities for athletes to develop their skills, build meaningful relationships and experience the joy of sports. We invite you to consider becoming a coach or encouraging others to join our coaching community. Our volunteer coaches are essential to the success of our athletes.

Together, we can look forward to a brighter, more inclusive future.