Our History


Special Olympics History South DakotaThe concept of Special Olympics began in the early 1960’s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for people with intellectual disabilities. In 1968, Mrs. Shriver organized the First International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago. From Chicago, the excitement spread to South Dakota, where in 1968 the 1st Annual Special Olympics South Dakota Summer Games were held with 125 athletes participating.




The Spirit of Special Olympics


On her way to the Opening Ceremonies of the first Special Olympics World Games, Eunice Kennedy Shriver wrote the final draft to an athlete oath. In front of the many spectators and visitors, Shriver memorably opened the Games with these words:


"In ancient Rome, the gladiators went into the arena with these words on their lips: 'Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.' Today, all of you young athletes are in the arena. Many of you will win, but even more important, I know you will be brave, and bring credit to your parents and to your country. Let us begin the Olympics. Thank you."


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