National News

Special Olympics Oregon cancels 2018 State Games over financial concerns

Posted June 19, 2018 2:10 p.m. EDT

— Special Olympics Oregon has canceled the 2018 State Games due to financial concerns.

The board of directors and new executive leadership announced the decision Monday, citing a recent analysis of the organization's current financial status.

Special Olympics Oregon reported a revenue shortfall in the 2018 budget and an analysis revealed an over-statement of money owed to the organization, which, along with existing debt, limited the cash available for pre-payments to vendors and other infrastructure needed to produce the State Games competitions.

"Once we opened the books, we found significant challenges facing the organization," said Lori Van Dyke, new chief financial officer. "In recent years, record management, processes and accounting practices were not well maintained."

Van Dyke and Britt Carlson Oase, the new chief executive officer, joined the organization on June 1. After an internal financial review, the decision was made to take an immediate, temporary hiatus from the State Games, "in order to allow the organization to evaluate its current situation and opportunity to deliver on its mission."

The organization will continue to focus on providing opportunities for local training and programs for athletes, while Team Oregon, a delegation of 44 people from around the state, will still travel to the 2018 USA Games in Seattle next month.

The USA Games happen every four years and thanks to a combination of partners, including Nike, Microsoft and local fundraising done by athletes, the event will have minimal financial implications for Special Olympics Oregon.

Special Olympics Oregon serves more than 14,000 participants year-round and statewide.

The organization reports it has taken immediate steps to organize financial records and establish a new financial plan. That includes a hiring freeze following staff reductions, along with reducing expenses and identifying opportunities for an "immediate cash infusion."

"We have searched for every possible scenario that paints a better picture, but this is where we are," Oase said. "It is important that Special Olympics Oregon be a good community partner to all stakeholders, including our athletes and their families, volunteers, schools, the many supporters we have in law enforcement, the corporate community, donors and vendors. Currently, we don't have the funds available to pay for services we have used in the past, hindering our ability to carry out our 2018 schedule as planned."