WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published January 07, 2010, 09:53 PM

Special Olympics Face Further Cuts

The North Dakota Special Olympics is not immune to the recession.

By: Joel Porter, WDAZ

We're only one week away from the Special Olympics winter games in Bottineau, and organizers say the games will go on as planned.

But every year, it's become even more of a challenge to raise the funds needed to put on the games.

The North Dakota office is responsible for raising the funds needed to host the olympics.

But organizers say every year it gets tougher as the program has faces budget cuts and a drop in sponsorships.

It's becoming one of the more endangered athletic events in North Dakota. A lack of funding cancelled the Special Olympics winter games two years ago, and once again last summer's games faced the chopping block due to spring flooding.

"We knew right away, we didn't want to go to businesses and ask for money, because they had other priorities and that was to save their business, as well as individuals also, and so we looked very seriously at not conducting that event," North Dakota Special Olympics CEO Kathy Meagher said.

Since then, the recession has meant fewer donations, making Kathy Meagher's job even more difficult.

"Thousand dollar sponsors all of a sudden said, no we can't do it now, where when we do the budget, we were kind of hoping or planning on some of those types of things," Meagher said.

Meagher says it takes at least 23 thousand dollars to put on the summer games and they need close to ten thousand to host the winter games. Much of the money goes to things like travel and lodging, but also to find enough volunteers.

"We just need to be creative on how to get people to give, it may be something other than their pocketbooks or it just may be of their time and talents," Meagher said.

That creativity has spawned more fundraising events around Grand Forks, including polar plunges and golf tournaments. But the work continues piling up for Meagher as they've had to cut two of their nine staff positions at their Grand Forks headquarters.

"Everybody takes a little piece of what those jobs were, whether we like to or not," Meagher said.

Meagher says they're now looking to more partnerships to raise additional funds.

That means partnering with other organizations including local law enforcement officers.