Special Olympics medal won by Ricardo Thornton

Special Olympics medal won by Ricardo Thornton

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Description (Brief)
Special Olympics Unified sports medal with a red and white ribbon won by Ricardo Thornton. The front is embossed with "Play Unified to Live Unified," and the back has the Special Olympics logo embossed in the center with "Unified Sports," underneath. Unified sports was introduced to the Special Olympics in the 1980s and pairs non disabled athletes with Special Olympics athletes. Ricardo Thornton (b. 1959) lived for 20 years in an institution, placed there by his family in the early 1960s. He learned to play sports and met his future wife, Donna, there. He and Donna, both wards of the District of Columbia, had to fight to get married in 1984. After they married, they left the institution, had a son, and now have grandchildren. Thornton has worked most of his adult life while continuing to compete in sports.
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.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
medal, special olympics
special olympics medal
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
ribbon (overall material)
overall: 16 in x 3/4 in x 2 in; 40.64 cm x 1.905 cm x 5.08 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Special Olympics
African American
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Sport and Leisure
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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