Special Olympics of Arizona Inflatable Arch - aboutSpecial Olympics of Arizona Inflatable Arch - about

About Us


In 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver began a summer day camp at her home in Maryland for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

This camp was designed to allow these special individuals a chance to explore their capabilities in a variety of sports and physical activities. The idea quickly took off, and in 1968 the first International Special Olympics took place at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL, with 1,000 athletes from the US and Canada competing in Track & Field and Swimming.

In 1975, the hard work and goodwill of Shriver’s efforts reached Arizona.

The first SOAZ competition consisted of a one-day Track & Field event with 100 athletes and 20 volunteers and today has grown to 21 sports, 675 regional competitions, and 4 statewide competitions for 21,461 athletes and 24,743 day-of volunteers annually. SOAZ also provides health, arts, and leadership and advocacy programs for people of all abilities and ages. We work so that we may realize found Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s vision: to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities everywhere, and transform the lives of everyone they touch – building a better, more accepting world for all of us.

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