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Special Olympics Nebraska may be affected by funding cuts

Posted at 6:48 PM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 19:48:52-04

Education Secretary Betsy Devoss announced plans to cut the $18-million in the department's budget given to the Special Olympics.

With possible changes in the budget coming from Capitol Hill, Special Olympics Nebraska may have a different look moving forward.

"Special Olympics is not just an important part of people like me but it's an important part of our community," said Kim Stoneburner, a parent of a Special Olympics athlete. Stoneburner's son Will plays basketball on Special Olympic and unified programs.

"We believe this is a long course in the budgeting process and we will see how this plays out," said Carolyn Chamberlin, President and CEO of Special Olympics Nebraska.

Chamberlin says 7,500 athletes compete in 19 sports in Nebraska.

"It has created an opportunity for dignity and an opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to have a place where they fit and a place where they feel they can offer their gift," Chamberlin said.

The proposed budget cut doesn't directly affect the organization. The money being cut goes to the corporate offices which is used for grants. However Nebraska's office relies on these grants for roughly seven-percent of its $2.2-million budget.

"Once the final budget is passed and we know exactly what the outcome is we will evaluate if we have to make any changes here," Chamberlin said.

The budget cuts have been proposed in past years, but they haven't been passed. Special Olympics Nebraska is hoping leaders do the same in 2019.

"I have faith in the system that it's going to work out as it should go out," Chamberlin said.

Special Olympics Nebraska also has a partnership with the NSAA and its unified sports programs. The NSAA released a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“The partnership between the NSAA and Special Olympics Nebraska (SONE) has benefited thousands of students in Nebraska through the launching of Unified Sports®. Unified Sports® have positively impacted high schools across Nebraska and given validity to this movement through improving school culture and climate. Unified Sports® will continue to be very important to the NSAA as we await decisions in Washington D.C., and the impact of those decisions in Nebraska (SONE).”