Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that aims to provide athletic competition and sports training in various Olympic-type sports for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. The organization offers opportunities for the disabled to demonstrate courage, develop physical fitness, experience joy and take part in a sharing of skills, gifts and friendships with families, the community and other Special Olympics athletes.
The Special Olympics concept was born in 1962, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver began a day camp for those with intellectual disabilities at her house. It was in 1968 when the worldwide Special Olympics movement started, with the First International Special Olympics Games being held at Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois. Currently, Special Olympics draws over 2.25 million athletes worldwide in over 200 programs in more than 160 countries. It is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and United States Olympics Committee.
Accredited and authorized by Special Olympics, Inc, Special Olympics Colorado held its inaugural event, the Summer Games, in 1969. About 400 athletes took part in the one-day track and field meet, Currently, SOCO serves over 10,000 athletes with more than 6,000 volunteers providing opportunities for training and competing in more than 20 Olympic-type sports throughout the year.
Each year, SOCO offers four sport seasons, each culminating in area level or statewide competitions. During the winter season from January to March, it offers alpine skiing, basketball, cross-country skiing, figure skating, speed skating, snowshoeing and snowboarding. For the spring season, sports offered are aquatics, athletics, gymnastics, powerlifting and soccer. SOCO offers Bocce, cycling, golf, softball and tennis during the summer season from June to August September to November, and bowling and volleyball for the fall season.
Special Olympics Colorado also offers Motor Activities Training Program (MATP) year–round. This program is intended to develop the motor skills of athletes who do not yet have the skills to take part in a competitive environment.
Aside from area-level competitions, SOCO hosts various statewide competitions each year. These sporting events differ in venues and sizes, but all are packed with the Special Olympic spirit and fun.
The Winter Games, held last March 5 and 6, marked the end of the winter sports season in six sports for the 500 participants. Meanwhile, the basketball tournament, one of the biggest state competitions, will be held on May 19 at Gold Crown Field House in Lakewood.
The Summer Games, which will be held on June 4 at the University of Northern Colorado, marks the end of the spring sports season. This year, over 1,100 athletes will take part in five sport events, making it one of the biggest competitions hosted by SOCO every year.
The Summer Classic will be held on August 13, hosting more than 700 athletes, while the Fall Classic will happen on November 24, with 600 athletes and Unified Sports partners taking part in the competition.