Continuing a decadeslong partnership, Knights donated $3.7 million and more than 400,000 volunteer hours to the organization in 2021-2022
The Knights of Columbus has been an integral supporter of Special Olympics since 1968, when members served as volunteers at the first International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago. Today, thousands of Knights continue to give a hand at Special Olympics events, and local councils contribute millions of dollars toward the organization’s work each year. In fact, the Order’s partnership with Special Olympics is a featured Faith in Action program in the “Life” category.
Even during the 2021-2022 fraternal year, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of many events, councils donated more than $3.7 million to Special Olympics and individual Knights volunteered more than 418,000 hours. Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said in his annual report at the 140th Supreme Convention, “Our support for Special Olympics is a powerful sign of our unwavering defense of the dignity of the human person. As Knights, we know that every life is a gift from God.”
Below are a few of the ways Knights have supported state and local Special Olympics programs in recent months.
A Knight assists an athlete competing in the softball throw event at the 2022 Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games. In addition to volunteering at competitions, Kentucky Knights organize and participate in various fundraisers for Special Olympics each year, including the annual Polar Plunge and Plane Pull. (Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Kentucky)
PULLING FOR SPECIAL OLYMPICS ATHLETES
North Carolina Knights pull a 30,000-pound airplane across the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham International Airport as part of a Special Olympics fundraiser. Three K of C teams competed in the plane pull, and then-State Deputy JC Reiher — who led a team of state officers — presented Special Olympics North Carolina with a donation of $10,000. (Photo courtesy of Special Olympics North Carolina)
Members of Msgr. Gerald Murphy Assembly 2223 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and Archbishop McCarthy Assembly 799 in Halifax provide an honor guard for a Special Olympics event in Antigonish. Local Knights give significant support to Special Olympics Nova Scotia.
A SPECIAL BASKETBALL NIGHT
A group of athletes with Special Olympics Kentucky attend a local high school basketball game, hosted by members of Msgr. James H. Willet Council 7847 in Hopkinsville, Ky. The Knights arranged for the athletes to be introduced by name at center court between the junior varsity and varsity contests.
Michael Argo (left), a member of Mount Vernon Council 5998 in Alexandria, Va., stands with Sean Kronenwett of Acton, Mass., following the 2022 Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Virginia. More than 100 Virginia Knights and family members participated in the event, where then-State Deputy Mark Janda presented the organization with a donation of more than $163,000 — contributions from 105 councils.
GIVING THE GOLD
Knights from north Texas and their wives gather to help with the North Texas Special Olympics. The volunteers assisted with medal and ribbon presentations for the track and field competitions.
SPECIAL OLYMPICS BOOSTERS
Members of Our Lady, Queen of Peace Council 11680 in New Port Richey, Fla., presented a donation of more than $6,000 to volunteers and athletes from Special Olympics Florida, Pasco County. The council provides frequent support to the organization.
MOTHER’S DAY BRUNCH
St. Anthony Council 1461 in Batesville, Ind., hosted a brunch on Mother’s Day to support Special Olympics in southeastern Indiana. Special Olympics athletes helped to serve the meal, which raised $1,800 for the organization.
Members of St. Joseph Council 12941 in Biddeford, Maine, joined a statewide K of C team for a Lobster Dip — the local version of the Polar Plunge — benefiting Special Olympics Maine. The team raised more than $7,000.
FUEL FOR THE GAMES
Knights from six area councils volunteered at the Special Olympics Unified Cup international soccer tournament in Detroit, helping to prepare more than 750 meals for teams and coaches.