Special Olympics Oregon cancels annual Winter Games

Special Olympics Oregon is canceling this year's Winter Games in Bend due to financial reasons.

Special Olympics Oregon announced the annual Winter Games in Bend will not be held this year.

CEO Margie Hunt said the organization needs to save money after years of explosive growth.

“We're in a little bit of catch up here. In the for profit sector, when you have growth you just make more money. In the nonprofit sector, when you have major growth it costs more money. So we're doing a little catch up here,” she said.

Hunt said in 2003 Special Olympics Oregon served 1,200 athletes. Today the number served is closer to 14,000, she said.

The continued growth is straining the budget.

“The constituency we serve is the largest disability population in the state. So every time we're out there our phone starts ringing, 'My son, my daughter could they be in Special Olympics? And we say yes," Hunt said. 

The winter games include alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding. The organization pays to get the athletes from their homes to Bend. It also covers food and lodging for the big weekend.

And to those skeptics who wonder if something is wrong with the organization's books, Hunt said no one is stealing or wasting money.

“If there's anything that's key with nonprofits, it's fiduciary responsibility and what you do with that donor money. Nope. We've just had huge growth,” Hunt said.

Canceling the Winter Games affects roughly 200 athletes across Oregon. Seventy-six live in the greater Portland area.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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