Special Olympics celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2018 and we are excited to share that Special Olympics Oregon is entering its 50th Anniversary year in 2022! In 1972, only 4 years into its creation, Special Olympics planted its seed in Oregon. Because of the early pioneers in our movement and the thousands of people who continue to believe in the transformative power of sport for children and adults living with intellectual disabilities, we are now active on every continent, in most countries, in all 50 states – and here in Oregon, we are in every county across the state and have been active in over 250 schools and colleges.  The connection between our local mission and the national and global mission is strong, with athletes, volunteers, and staff participating in USA Games, World Games, and serving on committees.  

Throughout 2022, our 50th Anniversary year, we will take you on an inspiring journey as we celebrate 50 stories of 50 years – and we know you’ll love reading the first two stories below. The first highlights one of the first volunteers who helped to bring Special Olympics to Oregon and the second covers SOOR’s history of athletes competing in the X Games Aspen, with a special nod to Henry Meece one of SOOR’s most decorated winter athletes who just made his sixth appearance in snowboarding.   

Additionally, we are excited to share that we will have a 50th Anniversary display at the Oregon Historical Society, thanks to longtime supporter, advocate, and friend of SOOR, OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. Details will be released soon! There will be many opportunities to celebrate over the course of the next year and we look forward to bringing our rich history to life with the many fans of Special Olympics Oregon athletes. 
Here’s to hoping 2022 is off to a great start for you. 

Britt Oase, CEO
Special Olympics Oregon
Miss out on your chance to win free airline ticket last month? Now you have a second chance to win! Each participant who registers for the 2022 Polar Plunge before January 31st will be entered to win (2) roundtrip travel tickets from Southwest Airlines. Additionally, each $25 raised in the month of January will gain registered participants an additional (1) entry into the drawing**
**Drawing is for (2) pair of tickets from Southwest Airlines and is only valid for registered participants of the 2022 Polar Plunge (all cities plus Plunge at Home). Winner will be randomly selected.
50 Stories of 50 Years
While we won’t count this as one of our 50 stories, we do want to share how it all started – with “it” being Special Olympics, which today is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit every day around the world through the transformative power and joy of sport. Through programming in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics is tackling the inactivity, stigma, isolation, and injustice that people with intellectual disabilities (ID) face. Our work goes far beyond sports events, driving social change that enables full social participation for people with ID. 
Special Olympics approach is to deliver, high-quality training and competition in an inclusive culture through Unified Sports which allows for people with and without intellectual disabilities to play on the same field. We offer 30-plus Olympic-style individual and team sports that provide meaningful training and competition opportunities for athletes ranging in age from 2 to 99!   
“It” all began in the 1950s and early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. She also saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t even have a place to play. She decided to act. Here incredible story unfolds here:  Eunice Kennedy Shriver + Special Olympics. 
Story #1
Tom Zyp
By Britt Oase + LouAnne Tabada

In preparing for our 50th Anniversary year, we’ve been retracing our roots, and our first story brings us back to 1974, just two years after SOOR filed its articles of incorporation. We spoke with Janice Zyp and her daughter Cathleen, who added wonderful insight into the beginnings of SOOR.  
Tom Zyp was passionate about sports and active in baseball, basketball, and bowling at Pacific University. He also enjoyed refereeing basketball and umpiring softball.  Four years after he started his career, Tom began working with Special Olympics through the Hillsboro School District under Mike Sanford. 

Story #2
Henry Meece - X Games
By Mark Hanken

Four-time X-Games gold medalist and Special Olympics Oregon athlete Henry Meece returned to Aspen to compete at the X-Games Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding Event this past Friday, January 21st. He has participated in Special Olympics for twelve years in snowboarding. Henry is also currently featured in an exhibit on display at the Oregon Historical Society called Freeze the Day! A History of Winter Sports in Oregon.

Kecia Weaver
By Kirsten Goetz

The LETR for Special Olympics engages law enforcement worldwide championing acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, starting first with their own communities. This year as we Plunge into freezing waters across the State, SOOR depends on our LETR volunteers more than any other season. Officer Kecia Weaver of the Bend Police Department exemplifies this commitment to bring awareness to Special Olympics Oregon and to serving her community. 

Mattress World Northwest
By Scott Friesen

Mattress World Northwest has been a long-time supporter of Special Olympics Oregon through our annual Polar Plunge campaign. In addition to being a sponsor of the event, each year owner Sean Hathaway donates production and airtime of a Polar Plunge commercial through KGW.

"We support Special Olympics Oregon first and foremost because it helps and uplifts Oregon families plus it uplifts people with intellectual disabilities to have a purpose and fun through athletic competition." -Sean Hathaway

Thank you to our 2022 Polar Plunge Sponsors!
Our Mission
Special Olympics Oregon provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children, youth and adults living with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.