Proposed budget cuts to Special Olympics affects South Carolina

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW)- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is defending cuts to Special Olympics and herself on Thursday, telling senators she was not personally involved in the decision to propose eliminating the funding.

The Department of Education’s proposed budget for 2020 would eliminate all grant money for the non-profit, dropping it from more than $17.5 million to zero. South Carolina gets about $250,000 of that.

Those with the Special Olympics of South Carolina said that funding is used for Unified Champion Schools which promotes social inclusion by bringing together young people with and without intellectual disabilities in things like sports and student clubs.

There are more than 300 Unified Champion Schools in South Carolina impacting 150,000 students. One of those students is Josh Brown who was in one of those schools and plays basketball for Special Olympics. 

He also is the first person in Horry County to be accepted to the Clemson Life Program where those with intellectual disabilities get to have a real college experience. His parents credit much of that to Special Olympics.

It let him sort of feel free to be himself so that’s probably the biggest part. He can just focus on being Josh, and not have to worry about what other people thought. He’s exceeded everything we thought he would do, said Boyd Smith, Josh’s father.

DeVos defended the cuts by saying the organization raises plenty of money on its own without federal help. 

Those with Special Olympics of South Carolina said the proposed cuts is concerning. They said this is the third year in a row of proposed cuts to their budget, but feel confident the funds will be put back in. 

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