Crystal Hudson

Vice President of Digital Marketing & Fundraising, Special Olympics

Supernova Award Category: 

Marketing Transformation

The Organization: 

Using the power of sport as a catalyst, nonprofit Special Olympics is creating a world of inclusion where every person is accepted, regardless of ability. Since 1968, Special Olympics has challenged negative attitudes and low expectations for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) by offering opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and create friendships. By creating an atmosphere—online and in-person—of equality and unity, the impact of Special Olympics extends beyond the playing field and into healthcare, schools, workplaces, and communities. During the pandemic, Special Olympics became a hub for COVID resources for people with ID and many local Programs have held virtual sports, where athletes compete in activities they can do safely at home.

The Problem: 

When looking to digitally transform their businesses, Brightspot customers often experience challenges related to existing legacy CMS systems, which tend to hinder long-term scalability and innovation. Special Olympics, a Brightspot customer, was experiencing difficulty maintaining their existing CMS codebase, resulting in SEO concerns that took a toll on the rank and performance of their content. The company also had dated websites that negatively impacted visitor navigation and experience. Brightspot was challenged to implement a streamlined and powerful CMS platform that would enable Special Olympics to address these issues. Special Olympics also needed tools that were both powerful and intuitive so that their teams could quickly and effectively review content without involving more people and time than necessary in the process.

The Solution: 

After a decade of partnership on various initiatives, Special Olympics selected Brightspot’s modern CMS platform to empower its communications and fundraising teams. In addition to tailored workflows that boosted the efficiency of the content creation process, Brightspot provided the tools necessary for improving SEO and increasing website traffic to boost qualified leads for supporters. Additionally, Brightspot helped them rethink their site architecture and user experience to better guide users through the site. The ultimate measure of success was to improve the flexibility and agility of the website to create a better user experience both online and behind the scenes.

The Results: 

Brightspot has always been committed to ensuring that its customers won’t have to compromise, and that is exactly what it did when working on Special Olympics’ content management platform. With Special Olympics’ previous CMS solution, rapid response was impossible. Now, whether responding to the threat of lost government funding in 2019 or sharing vital health resources with its athletes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Special Olympics can more effectively and efficiently communicate with its stakeholders using Brightspot’s platform. 


For more than 12 years, Brightspot has worked closely with Special Olympics to bring its fans, donors, and athletes together through a variety of digital initiatives powered by the Brightspot Content Business Platform. To achieve its mission of creating an inclusive world for people of all abilities, Special Olympics now operates 14 sites on Brightspot ranging from its core property ( to its World Games ( to its fundraising ( and awareness ( initiatives. This partnership has resulted in increased fundraising efforts across multiple campaigns, while also empowering Special Olympics to deeply connect and communicate with its global audience. In July 2020, Special Olympics site was ranked #9 out of the top 200 non-profit websites in Elevation’s annual rankings. With Brightspot, Special Olympics has seen 15% revenue growth year over year through the site, increased site users by 20% in the first year after launch, and decreased site load time from 12 seconds to under 3 seconds.

The Technology: 

The Brightspot Content Business Platform’s unique approach to content management leverages ultimate flexibility. The technology is integration-ready and has an extensible architecture to allow organizations to create their own business logic and workflows as they move forward with their digital transformation efforts. Instead of requiring a customer to adapt their business to the platform, Brightspot is truly tailored to each organization’s specific needs and opportunities.

Disruptive Factor: 

Partnering with Special Olympics to connect athletes, coaches, families and volunteers to useful content is incredibly important, especially as Brightspot knows Special Olympics is a critical part of many athletes’ lives. On a global scale, Brightspot and Special Olympics are rolling out geolocalization integrations that enable the organization to publish additional translated content, helping to connect people with their local programs and making it possible to reach even more athletes around the world. With Brightspot powering an easy-to-navigate web experience, Special Olympics can better reach stakeholders to ensure they’re providing the most important information in a seamless and fast way, and is putting the power in the hands of the people of their global movement so they can engage, experience, and learn across borders.

Shining Moment: 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many in-person Special Olympics events were adapted for digital environments. Brightspot provided a modern platform to generate timely content like training videos and health articles created specifically to engage individuals with intellectual disabilities remotely. Investing in this technological infrastructure during the COVID-19 crisis was critical in empowering Special Olympics to meaningfully connect with its athletes.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities, fostering acceptance through sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. With over six million athletes and partners and over one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers over 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions yearly.