Event Planner

R-Word Event

Spread the Word to End the Word is an on-going effort to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word "retard(ed)" and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-word. The use of the word R-word hurts individuals with intellectual disabilities, their family members, and their friends.  The campaign, which peaks in March every year (but is ongoing throughout the year), is intended to get schools, communities and organizations to rally and pledge their support.  Spread the Word to End the Word™ is a youth driven campaign and every day there are young people, as well as family members and advocates, who are creating positive change within schools and communities to foster dignity, respect, acceptance, and tolerance for all individuals with intellectual disabilities.

What are some ideas from other rallies?

Many students around the country have hosted rallies in the past. Each one is a little different, so you should put together a youth leadership team to start planning the details. You’ll need to figure out how many people will attend, who will be your speakers, which Special Olympics athletes will be there, and how you can make the event exciting for everyone who is there.

How do I get the Special Olympics community involved in my event?

You should contact your state Special Olympics office to tell them about your event. They can help you with planning and providing you with more materials on Special Olympics. They can also help you find Special Olympics athletes in the area who can be speakers at your rally.

Who do I talk to hold an event at my school?

This often depends on your school. You should definitely work with a teacher to help you and your youth team as you plan for the event. You might also need to get permission from your principal, and you’ll want to talk to your school office about setting up a time and place. Make sure you do this early so you can set up a timeline!

Where do I get the R-Word supplies?

Every year in March, for the annual Spread the Word to End the Word Day, Special Olympics designs t-shirts, posters, pins and other materials. You can find out how to get these materials through your state Special Olympics office or by ordering them online at www.r-word.org.

What different clubs could I use to help me out?

There are many different types of clubs that would probably want to work with you on this event. You can contact your school’s Student Council, a community service club, social or awareness clubs, and especially sports teams!


Fundraising is an important part of sharing the Special Olympics movement.  Many youth leaders use fundraising as special events to promote the mission and involvement of Special Olympics in both schools and communities.  A large fundraising example is the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics®, which is held each year prior to the State Summer Games and lasts the entire month of April.  For organizations looking just to raise some funds for new sports equipment, consider pairing with a well-known restaurant to hold a fundraising night where 20% of its profit for one evening go towards your school’s team or club!  Other ways to gather teammates, students, and supporting fans as well as raise money include fundraising/charity walks, sports tournaments, raffles, coin drives, bake sales, and car washes.

Where does the money go?

If you hold a local fundraiser the money goes to the area or specific team that you want to help. If a check is written to the state that you live in, the money goes to the state Special Olympics (ex; if a check is written to SO Missouri, the check would be given to SO Missouri instead of the local team), but if a check is written to a specific team then the money goes to that specific team.

What can we use the money for?

Money donated to local teams is used to help pay for transportation of athletes, uniforms, equipment and other essential needs. Money donated to the state is used to put on district and state events, along with other exciting things.

Are there other big fundraisers that we can participate in?

Yeah, each Special Olympics state program does tons of fundraisers every year. Polar Bear Plunge is a really popular one: people get donations to jump into the ocean in the winter! There’s also Over the Edge where people rappel down the side of a tall building. There are also some less intense events too, like benefit runs, auctions, or more! You can check out what your state is doing by going to their website.

What are some really cool fundraiser ideas

There are a lot of cool fundraisers but here are just a few: pageants with males as the participants (sell tickets), bake sales, penny wars, sell T-shirts, hold raffles, walk-a-thons and tournaments such as 3-on-3 basketball or slow pitch softball. The possibilities are endless. Make sure you advertise for your events by putting ads in the paper, hanging up colorful flyers, word of mouth, mass texts, alerting local media, and of course - Facebook and Twitter!

How do I find sponsors?

A good way to find sponsors is to host an event in your area and offer local companies the opportunity to help sponsor by donating either items or money. You can also write letters to businesses or talk to them in person (make sure you are prepared beforehand). Another way is to INVITE people to events; this will show people what Special Olympics is all about!!

Why is it important to raise money for Special Olympics?

Special Olympics is a world-wide family of people who prize the values of courage, dignity and acceptance throughout the world. Special Olympics is in over 170 countries, serving nearly 3.5 million children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Eunice Kennedy Shriver, using sport as a catalyst in working for social justice, founded the organization in 1968.  Over the years, with the help of countless volunteers, coaches, Unified Partners and dedicated staff, her vision has helped not only those with intellectual disabilities, but also the community at large.  In order to continue her legacy, we need YOU to help us raise funds, so Special Olympics can continue to grow and help make the world a better place.

Fans in the Stands

No one likes playing or competing in front of empty bleachers!  It’s easy to get Fans in the Stand started at your school – bring a group of friends, design big posters, gather at a local Special Olympics or Unified Sports® game or tournament, and cheer like crazy!   Whether athletes are on the court, field, or  in the stadium, having cheering fans in the stands can be crucial to the motivation (and outcome) of the team!  Encourage members of your school to organize groups to be at every game or tournament to support Special Olympics athletes year-round.  Start Fans in the Stands at your school to ensure that every athlete and team has supporting fans who cheer every game, rain or shine, win or lose.

Where should I have an event?

You can contact your local Special Olympics program to find out what sports they offer, and what times they practice and compete so you can choose a time good for you and your friends!  

How do I advertise the event?

Contact your local Special Olympics program, as they can post it on their website and tell the teams that you are coming. You can put out flyers at your school and have it included in the school announcements.  You could even contact your local newspaper!

What are cool things to bring?

You can get big poster board, markers, and fun crafty items to make signs and posters! You might even be able to contact the coach to get the athlete’s names.  You can also buy face paint, streamers, and clappers! T-shirts are also a great way to make your group of fans stand out! 

What type of events can I have before the game?

There are lots of fun ways to get ready for the game. You can have the poster-making and face-painting be an event all on its own before the game.  You could also have a BBQ or order pizza so all of the fans have tons of energy before the game starts. You can bring music to get everyone pumped!

Who can I reach out to for ideas, and see what they have done?

Your state Special Olympics program should be able to help you get started. You can also go on the Special Olympics Fan Community site, and also check out other Fan Pages on Facebook!

Partners Club

The Partners Club® is a unique Special Olympics school based program that brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities, through sports skills training and competition (Unified Sports®) on a regular basis. This club offers other social and recreational opportunities as well for members to spend additional time together.  Student members need not be varsity or junior varsity athletes, but may have a particular career or sport interest.  A Partners Club® should be a sanctioned school club; the meeting schedule and format follows school club policies and procedures.  Clubs have a faculty advisor and officers who network with administration, as well as build a partnership with the physical education and special education departments. 

Why start a Partners Club?

Partners Club helps provide a place where students of all abilities can come together and interact and have fun together.  Partners Club really helps to unite a school and highlight the abilities of everyone!

How do I start a Partners Club?

The first thing you should do is contact your state Special Olympics office and see if you can work together to get something started.  Also talk to a school activities office to see what steps would be needed to start a club at your school.  Also check with the life skills teacher to see if they think Partners Club would work well in your school.

How do I get people to join?

Well, sports are normally a good way to get students involved, so reach out to sports teams and see if any of their members would like to join.  Pizza or other foods are also a nice way to get people to come to a meeting.

How would we pay for our events?

Talk to your school and your state Special Olympics program to see if they have money that they could use to help you start your club.  You could also make one of your activities a fundraiser. For bigger events, there are youth grants that Special Olympics Project UNIFY offers, and you can download the application on this website.

How do we organize sports events?

Your Partners Club might want to organize into a unified sports team. Unified sports teams bring together youth with and without intellectual disabilities to play together.  Contact your state Special Olympics office to see if there are other Unified Sports teams in your area that you can compete against. 


A youth summit is a gathering of youth pairs, ages 12 to 17, who come together to discuss issues surrounding people with intellectual disabilities and how to counteract them. Each pair is composed of an athlete with an intellectual disability and a partner without an intellectual disability who are friends from the same school or community. These students are gathered as delegates to discuss acceptance, bullying, name calling, and other problems in school communities. They brainstorm how Special Olympics can counteract social stigmas, and create action items for what they can do at home.  Youth discuss ways to improve the Special Olympics movement and reverse negative stereotypes and attitudes about intellectual disability. 

Who do I need to plan a summit and how do I find them?

To start out, you’re going to need adult support.  The best place to find this support would be your local Special Olympics office and a teacher or administrator in your school.  Then, you’re going to need a team of at least 10 youth (depending on the size of your school and summit), make sure to include students with and without intellectual disabilities.

After I have my leadership team, how do we divide up the responsibilities?

Everyone has different talents, and no one wants to get stuck doing everything, so you should make different committees.  Each leadership team can organize committees differently but one way would be to have: sessions, supplies, and setup committees. The whole team should brainstorm ideas for the session together, but then the sessions sub-committee will be in charge of contacting the speakers and facilitating the sessions during the summit.  The supplies committee will be in charge of ordering and preparing the supplies for each session.  The setup committee will be in charge of setting up the stage and audience seats how they need to be, putting the supplies on each table for each session, and passing microphones around during discussion times. Make sure the committees communicate with each other!

How do we start planning the sessions and where do I find ideas for different activities to use during the sessions?

With the whole leadership team, including adults, you need to sit down and think about what exactly you want to accomplish.  (What is your main goal for this summit?  Is it to educate about the R-Word campaign?  Special Olympics 101?  Be A Fan campaign?) Then you should think about the theme you chose.  (What are 4 or 5 sessions (1 to 1 ½ hours each) that educate about your topic?) You’ll want to come up with a one-sentence description of each session and plan different interactive activities so people don’t have to just listen to a powerpoint presentation. You should organize your plan using an outline or some format that everyone on the leadership team can use as a reference.

Where do I find the people to come to my summit?

Send out forms to all the surrounding Special Olympics groups, schools, and other youth-based community groups.  Don’t aim too high on the numbers.  Also, you want to make sure that the attendees are there for the right reason and really care about Special Olympics or would like to learn about it. 

How do I fund my summit?

There are definitely some costs you’ll have to think about for your summit. You should talk to your Special Olympics Program and your school to see if they can help you with any financial support. You should also talk to local businesses to see if they’ll donate items like food or even notebooks for the attendees. Finally, for larger projects you can apply for a Project UNIFY youth grant. The application is available on this website.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education

Special Olympics Project UNIFY started in 2008 as a U.S. national project, funded by the U.S Department of Education, with the goal to activate youth around the country in an effort to develop school communities where all young people are agents of change - fostering respect, dignity, and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities by utilizing the programs and initiatives of Special Olympics.