Monday, February 28, 2011

All state funding for Special Olympics in North Carolina may be cut

From WRAL-TV. Pictured are teammates Karen DeHart and Courtney Bell (L-R) from Watauga County, N.C., during the Summer Games aquatics portion of the North Carolina Special Olympics.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Special Olympics North Carolina President Keith Fishburne said he has received state funds regularly since 2004. At one time, the group was getting $200,000 a year.

Now all state funding for the group might be lost.

Gov. Beverly Perdue introduced a budget on Feb. 24 for the upcoming fiscal year that eliminates money for some nonprofits, including Special Olympics.

“As far as the governor is concerned, we have been taken out of her budget,” Fishburne said Thursday. “We are very disappointed.”

State funds make up around 2 percent of the Special Olympics budget. The nonprofit has also seen a decrease in donations. Revenue for the organization is down $400,000 over the past 18 months.

Already, events have been scaled back, and Fishburne said he is worried about what will happen next.

“We are going to do our best not to completely cut events,” he said.

Regenia Sanders, mother of Special Olympics athlete Theara Sanders, said she fears losing the group that has helped her daughter’s self-esteem and independence.

Theara Sanders, 26, has been a Special Olympics athlete since she was 10. She plays tennis.

“If I win, I feel really, really great about myself,” Theara Sanders said.

Fishburne said he is not giving up. He will make a case to the General Assembly to get Special Olympics back in the budget.

Other nonprofits who were cut from the budget are Kids Voting and Communities in Schools.

Other groups could see less funding as state agencies which they are under make mandated cuts.