SPECIAL REPORT: SPECIAL OLYMPICS

The Trump Administration has reversed course on cutting funding for this important event, but the fallout continues. We have the details.

For the Special Olympics New York event schedule, click here.

For volunteer opportunities with Special Olympics New York, click here.

Aired on April 2, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> ON MARCH 27th, EDUCATION SECRETARY BETSY DeVOS PROPOSED THE ELIMINATION OF NEARLY $18 MILLION OF FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS.

HER ANNOUNCEMENT WAS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED BY CRITICISM FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE.

THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BERNIE SANDERS CALLED IT UNBELIEVABLE.

WHILE FORMER 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN KASICH SAID IT WAS JOOUTRAGEOUS.

24 HOURS LATER TRUMP SAID WE'RE FULL FUNDING.

IT DOES MORE THAN SOME THINK AND FEDERAL FUNDING IS THE KEY TO ITS EXISTENCE.

HERE WITH ENSIGHTS, STACY, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

FIRST, DO I WARM TO START WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WE HEARD FROM BETSY DeVOS.

EVEN THOUGH IT WAS WALKED BACK.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD THAT?

I THINK I WAS.

I THINK ALL OF OUR NEW YORK FANS AND FRIENDS WERE VERY CONCERNED.

THIS FUNDING WAS TARGETED FUNDING FOR OUR UNIFIED CHAMPION SCHOOLS PROGRAM WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

IT WASN'T, WE'RE NOT FEDERALLY FUNDED PER SE THAT WE GET SO MUCH MONEY PER ATHLETE OR ANYTHING.

THIS WAS A PROGRAM THAT WE USE SPECIFICALLY FOR OUR WORK IN THE SCHOOLS.

IT IS A NEWER PROGRAM THE LAST DECADE OR SO.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN A HUGE CHAMPION OF THE UNIFIED CHAMPIONS SCHOOL PROGRAM.

IT REALLY PROMOTES INCLUSION WHICH IS REQUIRED BY OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

WE'RE HELPING THEM GET WORK DONE.

FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T REALLY GET WORK DONE, HOW MUCH PROVIDES TO ALL CHILDREN.

NOT JUST SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN BUT ALSO NONSPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN.

IF YOU THINK OF YOUR HIGH SCHOOL, YOUR SPORTS HIGH.

NOW IN 145 EXCUSE ACROSS NEW YORK STATE WE HAVE A UNIFIED TEAM WHICH MEANS HALF THE INSTITUTES HAVE IT AND HALF DON'T.

SO IT IS THE SAME RULES, SAME OFFICIALS, UNIFORMS, AS THE OTHER TYPICAL SPORTS TEAMS THAT WE'RE USED TO SEEING.

THAT'S JUST ONE COMPONENT.

WE WORK OTHER STUDENTS DIRECTLY WITH THEM TO HAVE ALL YEAR ROUND ACTIVITY THAT'S PROMOTE TOLERANCE AND EMPATHY AND SCHOOL SPIRIT.

SO IN ADDITION TO THE UNIFY THAT YOU JUST MENTIONED, WE HAVE LOTS OF PROGRAMMING.

WE HAVE THE SPORTS PROGRAMMING.

WE DO 5,800 COMPETITIONS A YEAR.

THIS WEEKEND WE HAVE A VOLLEYBALL.

THEY TRAIN ALL YEAR ROUND.

JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE A DISABILITY DOESN'T MEAN THAT.

IT IS AN AMAZING VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY TO GET THESE TEENS TOGETHER AND TO WORK WITH THEM.

TO GET THEM TO THE REGIONAL LEVEL, THE STATES LEVEL.

WE JUST SPENT SIX PEOPLE TO ABU DHABI.

THEY JUST CAME BACK.

IT IS EXCITING AND WE COULD NOT DO IT WITHOUT OUR VOLUNTEERS.

GOING BACK TO THE WHOLE ISSUE OF FUNDING.

THAT'S AT THE FOREFRONT RIGHT NOW.

IS THIS FUNDING GOING TO THINGS LIKE TRAVELING?

ALL OF OUR ATHLETES COMPETE AND OUR UNIFIED PARTNERS.

THE STUDENTS WHO COMPETE WITH OUR STUDENTS WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES.

IT IS ALL FREE OF CHARGE.

THEY HAVE ON TRAIN, GO TO THE BASKETBALL FACILITY AND WORK.

WE PAY FOR ALL OF THAT.

SO WE RELY FLAP TLOPIC DONATIONS AND NEW YORK CAUSE THE GOOD JOB SUPPORTING US.

WE HAVE LOTS OF WORK TO DO.

WE WANT TO HAVE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR ATHLETES.

WE HAVE LOTS OF GREAT PLANS TO DO THAT.

THEN AGAIN TO GO BACK TO FUNDING, SO MANY ISSUES BECOME PAWNS WHEN IT COMES TO THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVEL.

THE FACT THIS WAS EVEN CONSIDERED TO BE A CUT, I'M JUST WONDERING, WHAT WAS THE COMMUNITY'S REACTION THAT IT WAS EVEN ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK?

IT IS A BUMMER.

I THINK THE OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT THAT WE GOT SO FAST, AND ALL OF OUR OFFICES WERE FLOODED.

I THINK OUR VOLUNTEERS.

WE'VE GOTTEN FOUR TIMES THE INQUIRIES ABOUT VOLUNTEERING IN THE LAST WEEK AND ALL THE OFFICES THAT WE HAD IN THE WEEK PRIOR.

WE HAVE ONE SCHOOL THAT WROTE DIRECTLY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO US.

WE COULDN'T FEEL BETTER ABOUT OURSELVES.

AND WE WERE DISAPPOINTED THAT THE GOVERNMENT FOR A SMALL PERIOD OF TIME DIDN'T VALUE THE WORK WE WERE DOING.

WE'RE HAPPY THAT WAS REVERSED.

WE'RE SO HAPPY THAT OUR MESSAGE IS THROUGHOUT TO SO MANY.

THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF NEW YORK HERE'S CAME RIGHT TO OUR DEFENSE.

SO OUT OF A POTENTIAL, THAT'S WHAT WE WANT TO FOCUS ON.

I THINK THAT'S WHAT YOU'LL FIND WITH SPECIAL OLYMPICS IN NEW YORK AND ALL OVER THE PROGRAM.

WE HAVE THE LARGEST, 68,000 ATHLETES.

IF YOU'RE INVOLVED, YOU FEEL GOOD.

YOU'RE DOING THE RIGHT THING.

YOU'RE GETTING TO MEET DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

IT'S FUN.

AS FIERCE AS THAT COMPETITION IS, THEY DO WANT THAT GOAL.

WHAT YOU WILL SEE, YOU WILL SEE TEAMMATES SHAKING EACH'S HANDS.

YOU GO AWAY HAVING SOMETHING TO CHEER ABOUT.

TO FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION ON NEW YORK'S SPECIAL OLYMPICS PROGRAM, GO TO METRO FOLKS.ORG.

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