Since 1968, the Knights of Columbus has raised and donated more than $600 million to programs for people with intellectual and physical disabilities - Special Olympics ranks among the larger gifts the Order makes annually of time and money.
In 2005, the Knights of Columbus announced a partnership with Special Olympics; committing $1 million over four years to grow the program in North America in addition to pledging increased volunteer support for state and local games. The Order also pledged to work with Special Olympics North America to expand its program to underserved countries. The Knights of Columbus has subsequently extended that commitment through 2016.
The Knights of Columbus commitment to Special Olympics and to hundreds of grassroots programs for people with intellectual and physical disabilities is an expression of our belief in the intrinsic worth of every human being.
In April, 2005, the Order gave its highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award, to Jean Vanier, the founder of l’Arche, a network of faith-based communities that care for people with developmental disabilities in a community setting.
Jean Vanier founded the first l’Arche community in Toronto in 1969, and today there are 29 communities throughout Canada, serving more than 500 people with disabilities. It has also expanded around the world, and there are now more than 146 l’Arche communities in 35 countries on six continents, with over 5,000 members. Vanier exemplifies the call to self-giving and Christ-centered community involvement that is a central theme in Gaudium et Spes, and his life and dedication are an inspiration to all.
The Knights of Columbus believe that the Special Olympics are nearly unparalleled in their ability to show the intrinsic worth and dignity of every single human being. These games don't just build strength and character in the athletes and participants; it only takes a few moments with the competitors to be inspired by the force of their determination, and the true sense of God's love.
Although the Special Olympics have grown in recent years, they still need our continued support. We encourage chapters and parishes around the world to organize fundraisers, events, and donation drives that will continue to benefit this magnificent event. The Special Olympics are too wonderful to overlook, and the Knights of Columbus are committed to bringing the games to all corners of the globe.
1. Appoint a Special Olympics Chairman or assign the task to the community activities chairman for your council
2. Contact your state council for the person who is responsible for coordinating statewide activities. Work with that person determine how your council, assembly or circle can support Special Olympics activities and initiatives in your area
3. Set a goal for your council, assembly or circle to raise funds to be given as an annual contribution to Special Olympics
4. Provide volunteers at the local or state games
5. Report your activities to the Supreme Council office on the Partnership Profile Report with Special Olympics (#4584). Working in conjunction with Special Olympics is one of the Supreme Council-designed “featured programs”. If your council or assembly raises $2,000 and contributes 200 man hours, your council would fulfill all four requirements for the Columbian Award in the Council Activities category
To assist your council, assembly or circle in its participation with Special Olympics, the following materials and links are provided:
For additional information on how your council, assembly or circle can participate with Special Olympics, please contact the Supreme Council at 203-752-4571.
Special Olympics News Articles
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Knights of Columbus pledge 1.4 million for Special Olympics world games