Worldwide, the Special Olympics sees participation from more than 3.1 million athletes with intellectual disabilities in 175 countries.

Special Olympics began in 1968 in Chicago and were organized by P.E. teacher Anne McGlone Burke. Eunice Kennedy Shriver (JFK’s sister and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ex-mother-in-law) agreed to sponsor the event and also announced she would permanently fund the Special Olympics as a formal organization. Shriver passed away in 2009. Burke is now an Illinois Supreme Court Justice.

Special Olympics Washington (SOWA) was formally organized in 1975.

To support SOWA, you can make a holiday donation. You can also join the the 2012 Polar Plunge in the Columbia Park with Team KORD. Join the team now here. Learn more about the event here. The Kennewick event is Jan. 21 and is one of six statewide supporting SOWA.