History of Special Olympics Delaware (SODE)

In 1970, Eunice Kennedy Shriver approached the late Bob Marvel, then President of the Wilmington Jaycees, about creating the Delaware chapter of Special Olympics. With two friends, Vic Murray and Don Bergner, they recruited athletes and volunteers and raised the necessary funds.

The first Special Olympics athletic competition in Delaware was a track & field meet held on June 5, 1971 at the old Wilmington High School. Nearly 100 athletes participated. In attendance were County Councilman Joseph R. Biden, U.S. Rep. Pete Dupont, Gov. Sherman Tribbit, Wilmington Mayor Harry Haskell and University of Delaware football coach Tubby Raymond.

 

The 1970s

Over 400 athletes compete in the sports of aquatics, basketball, bowling, soccer and cross-country running. Lions Clubs of Delaware select SODE as its charity of choice.

 

The 1980s

1981 -- The first state office opened in the Hudson State Service Center.

1983 -- The Brandywine Social Club started the first adult community-based program.

1987 -- The first Delaware Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics runs into the 1987 Summer Games.

1989 -- The Summer Games are moved permanently to the University of Delaware.

 

The 1990s

1992 -- The first Lewes Polar Bear Plunge and first Fall Festival take place.

1994 -- Sussex County office opens in Georgetown.

1995 -- SODE office opens on the University of Delaware athletic complex.

1996 -- SODE inducts inaugural Hall of Fame members Barbara and Winnie Spence.

1999 -- Athlete Input Council developed.

 

The 2000s

2001 -- Healthy Athletes is introduced at Summer Games and the Motor Activity Training Program is launched.

2005 -- SODE chosen to pilot Young Athletes program.

2006 -- SODE attends first Special Olympics U.S. National Games in Ames, Iowa.

2009 -- Project Unify is launched.

 

Today

The organization has grown to more than 4,200 athletes and 500 coaches participating in 19 sports.

SODE FACT SHEET