Special Olympics - Find ESPN's Game Changers features here

Hadeer Sadagah (No. 12) of Saudi Arabia competes against Kuwait in the Unified division during the 2019 Special Olympics World Games. Scott Clarke / ESPN Images

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. 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the International Special Olympics Games, which were held on July 20, 1968, in Chicago.

To commemorate the occasion, ESPN presented 40 original features that ran weekly on SportsCenter in the U.S. and on digital for a year. Each story showcased an athlete, coach or parent, among others, who has made a profound difference within Special Olympics over the years, a true game changer. Watch them all below. Please also Sign the Inclusion Pledge to include people with intellectual disabilities.

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.


Meet Kayla McKeon, a lobbyist with Down Syndrome: Kayla McKeon works in Washington, D.C. to get bills passed on behalf of those with Down syndrome -- and she's making an incredible impact. Watch

Perkins-Hawkins relationship epitomizes message of inclusion: Former NBA star Sam Perkins and Special Olympics track-and-field medalist Rodney Hawkins -- childhood friends who grew up together in Brooklyn -- reunited to support Special Olympics. Watch

Karen Ryan passing on a love of sports to her daughter Violet: When Karen Ryan's daughter was born with Down syndrome, she wanted to share her passion for running, and Special Olympics Young Athletes gave her the opportunity to do just that. Watch

Brady among athletes involved in Best Buddies Challenge: The two-day Best Buddies Challenge event brings athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities together with stars such as New England Patriots Tom Brady and Julian Edelman for football, food and fun. Watch

'I make my own journey in CO/LAB': CO/LAB Theater Group in Brooklyn, New York, partners with Special Olympics to encourage actors of all abilities to find their voices. Watch

Changing a culture of inequality in Saudi Arabia: Twenty-four Saudi women competed at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, helping to alter deep-rooted repression against women and people with intellectual disabilities back home. Watch

The girl who benefited from being included: High school freshman Jackie Paisano, who is severely impacted by her disability, needed someone to believe in her. She found that in classmate and SpecialOlympics Unified partner Phillip Dilosa. Watch

The real and authentic Spencer Roberson: Twenty-three years ago, Spencer Roberson's parents chose equine therapy for their autistic son, and that decision set in motion a story few would have thought possible. Watch

Law enforcement steps up for Special Olympics: Since 1981, law enforcement members have been the guardians of the Special Olympics flame. Today, they carry it to all local, national and world events in a torch run. Watch

Meet Robert De Niro's son Elliot: When Elliot De Niro's parents put a tennis racket in his hands, they never imagined the profound effect it would make on their son and those around him. Watch

The Rock's rock: Dwayne Johnson reflects on his childhood friend Milton Rosen and the impact the Special Olympics athlete had on the lives of him and his family. Watch

Rosa's Law, a story of inspiration and determination: In 2009, Rosa Marcellino and her family set out to abolish the 'R' word once and for all. The enactment of Rosa's Law was the culmination of their efforts. Watch

Special Olympics athletes prepare for World Games: Omar Al Shami and many other Special Olympics athletes look to showcase their skills in the upcoming World Games in Abu Dhabi. Watch

Special Olympics helps free teenager from isolation: Special Olympics helped save 16-year-old Niyibikora Malachie, who has an intellectual disability, from physical confinement, and now the young man is sharing his passion for soccer and track in his own words. Watch

Snowboarders Teter, Shilts share unbreakable bond: Olympic gold medalist Hannah Teter brought snowboarding to Special Olympics in an impactful way and, in doing so, created a true friendship with Daina Shilts. Watch

Bogucki a one-of-a-kind athlete: Bree Bogucki, a track athlete for Tennessee Wesleyan, travels and serves in her capacity as a Special Olympics Global Messenger. Watch

Life lessons produce delicious results in Denver pizzeria: The Special Olympics commemorates its 50th anniversary and has evolved into a global force for inclusion, extending to a pizza place in Denver. Watch

Loretta Claiborne making her voice count: For more than 40 years, Loretta Claiborne has been a voice for people with intellectual disabilities. She has traveled the world as an ambassador for change, but her voice has not always been heard. Watch

Kester Edwards, a man with a vision: An accident changed Kester Edwards' life and changed the world of Special Olympics by bringing the sport of open water swimming to the event. Watch

Unified Sports brings people together from all walks of life: Stephanie McMahon tells the story of Unified Sports from its beginnings to its international reach today. Watch

Kellis High School making impact with Unified Sports: Kellis High School's Unified Sports, a Special Olympics program aimed at creating inclusion between students with and without intellectual disabilities, has created a whole generation of students who have experienced the benefits of the program. Watch

'A Very Special Christmas' all about the Special Olympics: Artists from "A Very Special Christmas" discuss how the partnership with the Special Olympics came about. Watch

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