The Knights of Columbus: “Founding Champion of The World Games”
Of the many causes supported by the Knights of Columbus, Special Olympics is particularly valued. Since the first Special Olympics games were created in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her husband, brother Knight Sargent Shriver, Knights of Columbus members have been active and devoted supporters.
Since those initial games, the Knights of Columbus affirmed their unique partnership with Special Olympics throughout the years. In 1995, when the World Summer Games were held in the Order’s hometown of New Haven, Conn., Knights from Connecticut and nearby states provided 7,000 volunteers as well as a number of social and cultural events for competitors, with the Order contributing $1 million for the event. The Order provided additional funds in 2003 to support Team USA, Team Canada and Team Mexico at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland.
In 2005, the Order pledged $1 million over four years to grow the program in North America in addition to offering increased volunteer support for state and local games. The Order also agreed to work with Special Olympics North America to expand its program to underserved countries.
Less than ten years later, in 2014, the Knights of Columbus formally announced a $1.4 million donation to cover the costs of athletes from the United States and Canada participating in this year’s Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, July 25-Aug. 2.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson made the announcement during a news conference on July 14, the same day World Games CEO and President Patrick McClenahan named the Order a “Founding Champion of the World Games.”
“The Knights of Columbus were there with Special Olympics and its founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, from the very beginning,” said Supreme Knight Anderson. “Sargent Shriver, Eunice’s husband, was a friend and a proud member of the Knights of Columbus, and like him, we are here today to continue those efforts on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities. Our support exemplifies our commitment to the dignity of every person, our dedication to assisting with our neighbors’ needs whatever they may be, and our deep appreciation for the great work done by Special Olympics.”
The Knights of Columbus is one of the Honorary Chairs for the 2015 games, which will feature 25 different athletic competitions in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony will take place in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, and should attract more than 500,000 spectators.
The Knights of Columbus believe that the Special Olympics games 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; through the force of their determination, the competitors share with all spectators and volunteers the intrinsic worth of every human person and the true sense of God's love.
Since they first began supporting the games in 1968, the Knights of Columbus has raised and donated more than $600 million to programs for people with intellectual and physical disabilities — with those to Special Olympics ranking among the larger gifts the Order makes each year.
Although the Special Olympics has grown in recent years, it 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 organization. Special Olympics is too wonderful to overlook, and the Knights of Columbus are committed to giving every child and adult with disabilities the opportunity to experience joy and find confidence through the transformative power of the World Games.