For 33 years Special Olympics has thrived, even though it relies solely on donations. But statewide marketing director Bob Short says donations have dropped off dramatically since September 11th.
"We've lost between 35 and 40 percent of our major contributions coming into the state and to the local areas," Short said. "We have about 12,000 athletes in the state that's enrolled in our program, and we have about 45,000 that's eligible."
Without Special Olympics, those athletes would be missing out on a lot, bowling, soccer, skiing. Some special athletes get to travel too.
"Next month we'll be going to Boone, North Carolina, snow skiing and the big thing coming up in 2003, 26 of our athletes will be going to Ireland for the world games," Short said.
Special Olympics goes far beyond just sporting events.
"It's given them the opportunity to build up self esteem, after their athletics are over with, they have jobs now. They go out into the community, they work.
Special Olympics wants to continue to grow.
"If we don't get the funding, we don't get to go out and recruit and bring in as many athletes as we'd like."
The generosity of our community, corporate sponsors and the time donated by volunteers is what makes all it all possible. If you would like to become a corporate sponsor, or donate your time or money to the Special Olympics just call 1-800-655-7748 or 228-596-5801, or log on to www.specialolympics.org.