Tim Shriver remembers how Special Olympics began. He was about 5 years old -- and the event happened in his backyard (then called Camp Shriver). His mother and Special Olympics founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, organized games like pony rides, ropes courses, kickball, capture the flag and swimming races. Even then he knew there was something more to these games than just fun. They were about challenge, education and, most importantly, inclusion. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the International Special Olympics Games, which were held on July 20, 1968, in Chicago.
To commemorate the occasion, ESPN will present 50 original features that will run weekly on SportsCenter in the U.S. and on digital for the next year. Each story will showcase an athlete, coach or parent, among others, who is making -- or has made -- a profound difference within Special Olympics over the years, a true game changer. See the schedule and aired features below. Please also Sign the Inclusion Pledge to include people with intellectual disabilities.
How to Watch
Look for features on Special Olympics game changers live in the U.S. on SportsCenter on Wednesdays on ESPN from 8 to 10 a.m. ET. The schedule is subject to change. Once the features have aired, they will be available below.
Sign the Pledge
Sign the Inclusion Pledge and choose to include: The first Special Olympics Games debuted in the summer of 1968, and now 50 years later, we encourage you to #ChooseToInclude people with intellectual disabilities. Sign here.
Puerto Rico's Special Olympics overcoming hardships of Hurricane Maria: After the devastation of Hurricane Maria, coach Omar Alvarez and the Special Olympics community in Puerto Rico have worked hard to rebuild and work toward making the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi. Watch
Best Buddies brings diversity to the workplace: Best Buddies helps people with intellectual disabilities find jobs. Peter Mullin, an employee of the Washington Wizards, is just one person who has benefited from the program. Watch
How one woman changed Senegal's view on intellectual disabilities: Rajah Diouri Sy's daughter Khadija was born with Down Syndrome, but through their involvement in the Special Olympics, they are breaking down the stigma around intellectual disabilities. Watch
Ken Melvin more than just a Special Olympics athlete: Ken Melvin dreamed of serving his country in the military, but because of his intellectual disability, he couldn't pass the test to get in. With the help of Special Olympics and his family, he gained the confidence and support he needed to try again. Watch
Actor McGinley a parent with a megaphone: Three high-profile parents with the personal experience of raising a child with an intellectual disability are sharing a larger game-changing message of acceptance and understanding with sports as an integral component. Watch
Mohapatra making life-changing difference with swimming: Arpita Mohapatra has made it her personal mission to give swim lessons to as many people as she can, especially those with intellectual disabilities. Watch
Andre Drummond and the Kennedy Panthers: Andre Drummond shows his connection to and impact on a Special Olympics basketball team that plays just 35 miles from the Detroit Pistons' home court. Watch
Unified flag football gives Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry new chapter: Before Michigan recently took on Notre Dame in college football, the school's Unified flag football teams played a friendly game. Watch
Thornton leading the life no one thought he could have: Ricardo Thornton's life has been one of inspiration and consistently proving doubters wrong. Watch
Jamie Brewer is a game changer: Jamie Brewer is changing the landscape for those with Down Syndrome, acting in movies and on Broadway, modeling and working to change legislature language in Texas against the "R" word. Watch
SOfit is a health and wellness program for everyone: At Special Olympics Minnesota, Ben Swarts created and worked with Special Olympics Health Ambassador Nell Coonen-Korte on a program that could involve all people and would spread worldwide. Watch
Healthy Athletes helping people with intellectual disabilities: A healthcare program founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Dr. Steve Perlman over 20 years ago was a game changer and life saver for so many. ESPN contributor and Special Olympics International Global Messenger Dustin Plunkett reports. Watch
La Casa de Carlota is a business of change: La Casa de Carlota is a successful design studio with a client list that includes a professional soccer league comprised of people with intellectual disabilities, and they have a very unique characteristic that really sets them apart from most companies. Watch
Jamaal Charles' biggest impact comes off the football field: Jamaal Charles has always had an enormous impact on the football field, but growing up with a learning disability that limited his relationships, Jamaal found his truest comfort in a community far away from the locker rooms. Watch
Gerald Mballe is paying it forward: Gerald Mballe fled his home in Cameroon to escape violence and hardship. Arriving in a strange land, his path to acceptance would come in a most unexpected way. Watch
The will and determination of Danielle Liebl: Danielle Liebl defies the odds every day, after being told she would never walk again without assistance. Watch
Kennedys' family connection to the Special Olympics: The relationship between Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her sister Rosemary Kennedy was the root of the entire Special Olympics movement. Watch