The Mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympic athletes, and the community.
Area V … Serving More Than 1500 Athletes in Knox County, Anderson County, and Oak Ridge!
In 1968, Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics as part of the Joseph P. Kennedy foundation. Since then, Special Olympics has grown into an international organization (SOI), with affiliates in all 50 states and 143 different countries worldwide. The premise of the original Special Olympics, to improve the quality of life for individuals with mental disabilities and their families, is alive and well today.
Back in 1972, Area 5 started its program in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The program began with approximately 300 special education students from Knoxville, Oak Ridge and Roane County. The only events offered were in track and field. The Oak Ridge Jaycees ran the program. As the years went on, more sports were offered (team sports were introduced). Toward the end of the 80’s, the administration changed hands and the program was initiated in Knoxville. Area 5 was honored to have Betty Roy as their Area Director. Betty’s leadership helped Area 5 serve over 1300 athletes in seven counties participating in nine sports. Because of increasing numbers of athletes, the state office decided to move four of the counties out of Area 5 decreasing the number of athletes to 800.
Over the past decade, we have increased our numbers to over 1500 athletes and have added eight new traditional sports and ten unified sports.
In 1982, a Special Olympics Games committee was organized to coordinate the growing number of events. Volunteer event directors were recruited, who in turn recruited event committees for each sport. There are now over 130 nationally certified Special Olympic coaches in the Area 5 Greater Knoxville division of the Special Olympics. On many occasions, Special Olympics of Greater Knoxville has been honored to provide coaches to serve as state basketball, soccer, aquatics, power lifting, gymnastics and track and field clinicians. In 1998, an Advisory Committee was established to assist in fund raising and community awareness. This committee is made up of business and community leaders in the Greater Knoxville area. Kim Hatfield-Gray began co-directing Special Olympics with Betty Roy in 1996. In 1999, she took over the position of program director for Area 5. Since 2006 Tim Lee of Hardin Valley Academy and Gina Legg of Gibbs High School have been serving as co-directors for Special Olympics of Greater Knoxville, which now includes Knox County, Anderson County, and Oak Ridge.
Special Olympics athletes from the Greater Knoxville Area have competed in numerous state, regional, national and international competitions. Every two years international competitions are held in North America and our athletes have been there to help lead the Tennessee team to countless medals.
Knoxville has also played host the the state unified basketball and gymnastics meets. Area 5 has also hosted the 2001 State Spring Games in Knoxville including traditional basketball, roller-skating and unified basketball. This was the second largest Special Olympics event in the history of Special Olympics in Tennessee.
Knoxville Special Olympics is working to end the demeaning use of the R-word. The word “retard” can be very hurtful to those of us who are intellectually disabled or love someone that is. Help us make the world a better place to live by pledging your support HERE.