Special Olympics

What is Special Olympics?

Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions. Special Olympics gives visibility to people with intellectual disabilities. Visibility is the first step toward a positive cycle of inclusion, understanding and respect.

Special Olympics in Wood County

The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has operated the Special Olympics program since its creation in 1970 for youth and adults served by Wood Lane. In 1990, the program expanded to include youth who receive special education services from their local school district or the Wood County Educational Service Center. More than 500 people are actively participating in Special Olympics sports throughout Wood County. Athletes are eligible beginning at age 8. There is no maximum age limitation. Competition is based upon age, gender and ability.

Benefits of Special Olympics

A Special Olympics Athlete high fives Wood Lane staff members before heading out to State Games.


Participation in sports goes beyond the experiences of training and competing. Involvement in Special Olympics gives people access to improved physical fitness, self-confidence and a chance to expand their circle of friends in the community.

Athletes gain confidence when learning a new skill by interacting with other athletes and volunteers. These experiences enhance relationships, socialization, and help athletes discover new strengths, abilities, skills and success.

Athletes are a key part of the community as good neighbors, valuable employees and involved citizens.

 Sports Offered

Track runners pose triumphantly during State Olympics Award Ceremony. Bocce
Track & Field
Flag Football

Athletes regularly train throughout the season, typically with practices scheduled twice a week. Games or events are scheduled, with certified officials, throughout each sport season and athletes have the opportunity to advance to area, sectional and state competitions.

Get Started

Volunteers are key to our success. More than 100 volunteers assist with our Special Olympics program by serving as coaches, assistants or chaperons at practices and competitions annually. Some volunteers enjoy the experience of training and playing alongside an athlete in a unified sport such as golf. If you would like to volunteer with Special Olympics, visit our Volunteer Page  and get started today!

If you would like to participate in Special Olympics, please visit our Special Olympics Registration Page .

If you have questions regarding Special Olympics events, please contact Jacob Muellerschoen  by calling 419.352.5115 or email specialolympics@woodcountydd.org.