Portland, OR. We didn’t see images like these at the annual State Games in Salem last month, instead many Special Olympic athletes were sidelined, looking forward to fall and winter competitions. Now the Oregon nonprofit has announced both the fall and 2019 winter Special Olympics have been canceled over financial concerns. Special Olympics Oregon is auditing its financial statements to shore up resources, its reputation and the good faith of thousands of athletes who hunger to compete. Special Olympics Oregon also cancelled this year’s The Bite of Oregon, it’s biggest annual fundraiser, saying the event may return in the future.
According to the new CEO of Special Olympics Oregon who started on June 1st, Britt Oase, the organization had no other options. “Currently, we don’t have the funds available to pay for services we have used in the past, hindering our ability to carry out our 2018 schedule as planned…Please know that we are working diligently to return our athletes to the level of training and competition they deserve and that so many people are passionate about supporting.”
The 2016 financial statements reported a net operating loss of $131,850 and a decline in total net assets of $269,156. This follows operating losses in 2014 and 2015. The organization’s 2017 annual report has not yet been filed with the IRS.
Until a new financial plan can be structured, CEO Britt Oase announced what community members can expect and how athletes can still train:
FALL AND WINTER TRAINING AND COMPETITION
We’ve had the opportunity to connect with Local Program Coordinators this week to share information and gain feedback. As we discussed with this group, Special Olympics Oregon continues to address our financial situation and we are unable to provide regional or state competitions for the 2018 Fall or 2019 Winter seasons. Training for Fall and Winter seasons may be provided and supported by our Local Programs if they are able to do so at no cost.
HOW WILL TRAINING WORK?
- At the discretion of Local Programs, training can continue for Fall and Winter sports under a “no cost” format
- Local Programs may train at donated facilities within their own communities
- SOOR State office will continue to cover expenses related to mailings, storage, insurance and background checks for Class A volunteers
- SOOR State staff will work with Local Programs on roster management, athlete registration management & other tracking systems
- SOOR State staff will work directly with LPCs to support the creation, implementation and communication of Fall & Winter season training plans
Local Programs can also provide additional athlete engagement, inclusion and support through alternative activities such as hiking/walking clubs, health initiatives and other sport or fitness activities. Under the direction of its volunteer management team, each Local Program will be able to select its own sports and other activities offered, along with start and finish dates for the season. We are thankful for the critical support of our Local Program Coordinators as they lead these efforts and share plans with their programs in the near future.
The Special Olympics Oregon website will offer updated details as they become available: