Dr. Frank J. Hayden

Dr. Frank J. Hayden
Photo courtesy of the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame

Dr. Frank J. Hayden was born in Windsor but grew up in St. Catharines, where he was an enthusiastic participant in a number of sports, including football, track, and lacrosse. After his elementary and high school years he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education at the University of Western Ontario, and Master of Science and Doctoral degrees at the University of Illinois, and then went on to a long and distinguished academic career at three separate Ontario universities: McMaster, Western, and Toronto. Over the 40 or more years that he spent designing and evaluating exercise and sport programs he produced a number of impressive achievements, including co-authorship of the first national study of the fitness of Canadian children, in 1966, and co-authorship of the famous 5-BX program for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Yet Dr. Hayden is best known for his work on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities. In his researches he discovered that individuals with intellectual disabilities were only about half as fit as those without an intellectual disability, primarily through lack of opportunity and motivation to exercise. As a result, in 1968, while working as Director at the Kennedy Foundation in Washington, D.C., he organized the very first Special Olympics, which was held in Chicago; legally incorporated Special Olympics Inc. as an organization: and began the Special Olympics movement. Canada’s first games were held the following year in Toronto.

There were not quite 1,000 participants, from just 26 of the 50 states of the United States – plus a floor hockey team from Canada – at that first Special Olympics in Chicago, in 1968. Today there are more than 34,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities participating in 17 Olympic-type winter and sports programs in Canada alone. Worldwide, there are more than 3.7 million Special Olympics athletes in 170 countries.

For his many achievements, and especially for his work on behalf of individuals with intellectual disabilities, Dr. Hayden has received many awards. Among them are five Honorary Doctor of Law Degrees, membership in both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada, and an Honorary and Permanent Membership on the Canadian Olympic Committee. To add local recognition, and a local honour, to these many awards, in 2013 the Halton District School Board named its newest high school Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School

Dr. Hayden has been a resident of Burlington for nearly 40 years.  

He has supported many events at Hayden Secondary since our opening in September 2013.  He took part in a photo with our Junior Boys Football Team as part of National School Library Day October 28th.

Dr. Frank was inducted into the St. Catharine's Sports Hall of Fame - Hayden Inducted to Sports Hall of Fame.  Also, in the spring of 2014, he received recognition for all of his work from the City of Burlington. 

In November, 2016, Dr. Frank was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.