The concept of Special Olympics began in the early 1960s when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for individuals with intellectual disabilities. From that experience it was clear that people with intellectual disabilities were far more capable in sports and physical activities than many experts believed. In 1968, Mrs. Shriver organized the first International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago, where 1,000 athletes from the United States and Canada competed in track and field events and aquatics.
That same year, Eunice Kennedy Shriver visited Ellisville State School in Jones County and 150 athletes participated in track and field events at the first Special Olympics games in Mississippi, held at the University of Southern Mississippi. Special Olympics Mississippi officially incorporated and was recognized by the State of Mississippi in August 1975.