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The Special Olympics deserves recognition around the world and especially on YungPost. As the largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, the organization provides year-round training and competition for more than 4 million athletes located in 170 countries. In recent years the number of events has exceeded 53,000 annually, an amazing feat for any charity organization.

The competitions include Special Olympics World Games, just like Olympics that you and I have come to know and likewise they alternate between biannual winter and summer games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games is set to be the held in Los Angeles, California from July 24th to August 2nd2015, whilst Graz and Schladming, Austria will host the 2017 Special Olympics Winter Games.

Many may not know that Yao Ming is the Special Olympics Global Ambassador. He has been proactively involved in charity and public welfare initiatives such as the founding of the “Yao Foundation” in May of 2008, aimed at “helping children find warmth and hope in life”.

Aside from the Yao Foundation, Yao Ming has recently been involved in the Unified Sports Experience, a series of non-official Special Olympic competition activities which aims to bring together people with and without intellectual disabilities to the same playing field. These events provided opportunities for internationally renowned personalities and fans to pair up with Special Olympic athletes in competitive events to foster a spirit of acceptance and social inclusion.

Yao Ming began his career in the Shanghai Shorts where shortly after leading the team to victory in the CBA, he soon became the No. 1 drafted player in the NBA at only age 22. Yao Ming has had the privilege of being selected as an NBA All-Star for all 8 of his seasons as one of the premier centers in the NBA, earning ALL-NBA recognition five times. In addition to being a key member of the Chinese nation basketball team, he has competed in 3 Olympic Games from 2000-2008.

A Little Bit about the Special Olympics

The history of the Special Olympics traces back to the 1950s and 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver decided to take action after seeing how unjustly and unfair individuals with intellectual disabilities were treated. She began hosting summer camps in her own backyard with the goal of learning what these children could achieve in sports.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver continued the director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and the driving force behind President John F. Kennedy’s White House panel on individuals with intellectual disabilities. Her vision and drive for justice eventually grew into the Special Olympics movement. This leads to the first Special Olympics Games being held in Illinois in 1968, shortly followed by the official approval to use the name Olympics in their name.