CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After heated federal budget hearings, President Trump says the federal government will fund Special Olympics.
This week the organization has been center stage after a budget from Betsy DeVos proposed to eliminate $17.6 million of federal funding Special Olympics usually receives.
DeVos is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. We talked to the South Carolina chapter of the organization to find out what kind of funding they get from the government and what it’s earmarked for.
“This is the third year in a row that happened,” Barry Coats, the CEO and President of Special Olympics South Carolina, said of the proposal to slash funds. “From my perspective it’s disappointment. I guess that this continues to be the case.”
He said Special Olympics South Carolina usually gets $200-250,000 dollars in federal grant money. It’s used to help fund the Unified Champion Schools program, which focuses on inclusive sports, youth leadership and engaging the whole school.
“When you go to a Unified Champion School, you won't see our kids with special needs sitting at lunch by themselves. You won't see them walking in the hallways by themselves. They're a part of the school. Those are their friends. They're true friends- they go to the movies together and out to dinner together,” Coats said.
The program is currently in 60 school districts in SC and more than 300 schools. Coats said it currently impacts 150,000 students with and without special needs.
“If we lose 200k dollars it would impact us. That's a lot of money to an organization our size,” he said.
But later today, the President said Special Olympics will be funded.
Devos said she loves Special Olympics and donates to it. But she said in statement online, “the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”
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