The Power of Sport. For every Special Olympics athlete, there are many more waiting for their chance. Help us reach one more person who wants to participate. Download Program Fact SheetMore than 20,679 athletes participate in Special Olympics Michigan programs. Michigan has one of the largest programs in the U.S., but we're always looking for more athletes! Special Olympics Athletes are young and old. They have different backgrounds and hometowns. Some are gifted athletes; others must work very hard just to reach the finish line.Athelete DevelopmentAlthough sports is the "vehicle," the ultimate goal of Special Olympics is to help persons with intellectual disabilities participate and receive respect as members of their communities. Through Special Olympics, athletes gain self-confidence and prove their own capabilities. Special Olympics Michigan is not just training for sports--it's training for life! Training and CompetitionSpecial Olympics helps children and adults with intellectual disabilities improve their fitness, learn sports skills, and experience the joy of winning through regular training and competition. It's a year-round program and athletes can train for many different sports. It enables families to train together, to have common goals and to become part of the sports world of Special Olympics. Through Special Olympics, athletes gain self-esteem and discipline, which carry over into school, home and the workplace.