Abstract Participation in athletics has benefits for persons with intellectual disabilities and their parents. Our purposes here were to confirm these benefits and to determine whether reports from athletes and parents were comparable (i.e., to test the validity of proxy responding). We conducted interviews with 34 Special Olympics sailing/kayaking athletes and their parents. Interviews took place at a regional Special Olympics competition and 12 months later by telephone. Findings suggest that Special Olympics participation has a positive impact on parents and athletes. However, relative to athletes, parents overstated the benefit, indicating that parental proxy responding should not be routinely used.