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Special Olympics Oregon Cancels 2018 Games

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Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
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Atheletes wait for the beginning of their 200-meter dash race during the athletics portion of the 2014 Special Olympics Washington Summer Games at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 1.

Special Olympics Oregon suspended its 2018 State Games on Monday, citing financial problems.

The group hired new leadership this month. CEO Britt Carlson Oase said she found the organization doesn’t have the money to pay for past services or run the games this year. “This decision was not an easy one to make, however it does set us up for long-term sustainability,” she said.

“We have searched for every possible scenario that paints a better picture, but this is where we are."

She said the group’s new financial plan includes staff cuts, a hiring freeze and new revenues. "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.”

While the games collected four-and-a-half million dollars in 2016, the group recorded a $325,000 loss that year. Last year’s annual report has yet to be filed with the IRS.

“Once we opened the books, we found significant challenges facing the organization,” said the new Chief Financial Officer, Lori Van Dyke.

“In recent years, record management, processes and accounting practices were not well maintained.”

Greg Hathaway, chairman of the board of directors, said they were disappointed to see the full extent of the financial situation. "But the board is confident under the leadership of Mrs. Oase and Mrs. Van Dyke, SOOR will regain its financial foundation and build for decades of future success,” he said.

The organization says increased operational costs outpaced the fundraising efforts at their 30 local programs and 100 school-based programs.

About 1,400 athletes with intellectual disabilities were planning to compete in the games next month.

The delegation of 44 Oregonians who make up "Team Oregon" will still go to the 2018 USA Games in Seattle.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting.