Special Olympics Texas provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The events gives them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
“I’ve always been a firm believer in the value of exercise and the spirit of competition,” Pickens says. “The Special Olympics program opens doors of enrichment and self-worth to those who otherwise might never experience much of either.”
A $100,000 Foundation grant in 2007 helped cover the expenses for 60 athletes to attend the Special Olympics Team USA training camp and Texas orientation sessions, including the cost of uniforms, luggage, food, and housing.
“Thanks to the Pickens Foundation’s tremendous generosity, 60 SOTX athletes were afforded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” says Margaret Larsen, president and CEO of Special Olympics Texas. “The athletes were immersed in a foreign culture and environment [in China]; competed against and interacted with athletes from around the world; and all returned home as champions — enriched, empowered, and esteemed.”
Special Olympics Texas could not exist without the time, energy, and dedication of thousands of volunteers throughout Texas. Volunteers are the backbone of this organization. More than 1.5 million individuals around the globe dedicate one of the most precious gifts to Special Olympics — their time. More than 44,000 of those individuals volunteer in Texas.
Special Olympics Texas is divided into four regions with 19 area offices. Athletes may begin training as early as six years old, but must be eight years old to compete. Athletes must be 12 years old to attend statewide competitions.
Special Olympics Texas is a year-round movement, holding more than 300 competitions annually on area, regional and state levels. Event divisions are based on age, gender and ability level to give athletes an equal chance to win. Each participant receives a medal or ribbon following their events.
Special Olympics Texas has six statewide events annually: Summer Games, Equestrian, Sailing/Kayaking, Fall Classic, Winter Games and Flag Football. Statewide competition locations vary about every three years.
Special Olympics Inc. holds World Games every other year and USA National Games every four years.
For more information, visit www.sotx.org/ or call (512) 835-7756.