Photograph of Special Olympian Marty Sheets and his mother at the Greensboro Historical Museum display, "Voices of a City."
Marty Sheets was born with Downs Syndrome in 1953 but through Camp Joy, a camp for kids with intellectual disabilities, he found a love of sports. Invited to participate in the first International Special Olympic Games in Chicago in 1968, Marty formed a life long bond with founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Over the course of the next 40 years Sheets won over 250 medals while competing in golf, swimming, Alpine skiing, tennis and power lifting. His favorite sport was golf and In 2006, he was the PGA’s national volunteer of the year for his work at the Wyndham Championship in his hometown of Greensboro, N.C. He is also included in the portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and other Special Olympians which now resides in the National Portrait Gallery collections.
From its beginnings as Camp Shriver in Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s backyard, to the first international games in 1968, Special Olympics has been about giving people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in sport. This participation builds confidence, provides emotional support and offers social opportunities for the athletes and their families. With state chapters and a global presence through its World Games, “Special Olympics is the largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities with 5 million athletes in 170 countries worldwide.”
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