Special Olympics organizers react to U.S. Education Secretary's proposed budget cuts to program
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy Devos's proposed budget plan would cut close to $18-million from the Special Olympics, which has caused outrage on social media.
Amy Parker with the Special Olympics says this program has meant so much to so many, and the outpouring of support shows how much this program means.
"It builds lifelong relationships, for your health, your body, for your friendships, for your mind, and for your soul,” Parker said.
More than 2,000 athletes are in Hamilton County, 17,000 in the State of Tennessee, and 272,000 throughout the United States.
Parker believes this program is something that needs to stay.
"It's very eye opening and it's very heartwarming to us to see the comments on Twitter and social media and the impact that we do make. It's very positive. And at the end of the day, it is raising awareness and the importance of having Special Olympics within the school system,” Parker said.
Education secretary Betsy Devos's budget proposal would cut $17.6 million for the Special Olympics program.
Though not set in stone, the request has stirred lawmakers on both sides some call the proposal "outrageous" and "unbelievable."
Secretary Devos defended the move saying, “The Special Olympics is a private organization and is able to raise more than $100 million every year. The federal government cannot fund every worthy program."
Parker says the Special Olympics is more than just friendly competition.
"At the end of the day, it's about inclusion. Choose to include. This is going to create. It's not just sports, it's not just an athlete going through a medal. It's so much more than that,” Parker said.
And she hopes after today, Devos has a change of heart with this proposed budget.
"Please come out and watch our athletes compete. And they will show you why this needs to continue to happen,” Parker said.
People can send a letter of support for the Special Olympics to Congress by clicking here.