PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – After a long struggle with financial problems, the organization that puts together Oregon’s Special Olympics is showing signs of recovery.
A two-day soccer invitational at Providence Park this weekend is the first major event hosted by Special Olympics of Oregon since the fall of 2017, when the organization was crumbling under a financial crisis.
“If you look at the financials in the years leading up to when I arrived, revenues were decreasing, expenses were increasing, and the mission had been funded on debt,” Britt Oases, SOOR CEO, said. “And it was very clear we couldn’t go forward with that manner.”
Oases took over as CEO at Special Olympics of Oregon a year ago. She faced the difficult decision of canceling events, including the state games, because there wasn’t enough money to pay for them.
“It’s devastating to the athletes because Special Olympics isn’t just a hobby for them,” Oases said.
At the peak of its financial troubles, Special Olympics of Oregon was $2.5 million in the hole and owed money to 200 different vendors. A year later, the organization is building back up.
“We’ve had wonderful people stand by us,” Oases said. Companies. Philanthropists. Foundations. And so I feel very good about where we’re at today.”
Including, Oases says, the Portland Timbers. This weekend’s soccer clinic and competition serves as an important step forward.
“Special Olympics is one of the programs I’ve worked with since my college days in St. Louis,” Jack Jewsbury with the Portland Timbers said. “They’re always special events, ones that stick out in my mind.”
The organization still doesn’t have a timeline for its next state games, but does have plans for four sports during the upcoming fall season, training, and regional competitions, while looking forward to building lasting financial stability.
“It’s going to take time,” Oases said. “We had to dig out of a big hole. But we’re excited. We’re on stable ground now.”
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