DeVos’s proposal eliminates inclusion

Carole Hodorowicz, Columnist

On March 14, the largest Opening Ceremony in the history of the Special Olympics was held in Abu Dhabi. More than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries attended the Special Olympics World Games. This year was the first year it was held in the Middle East.

On March 18, Spencer Roberson, a 24-year-old Special Olympics athlete from Texas, won a gold medal in every category of equestrian. This was his first World Games ever.

On March 20, history was made as the first women from Saudi Arabia to participate in a Special Olympics World Games earned gold in women’s basketball. A total of 21 female Special Olympics athletes from Saudi Arabia attended the World Games.

And just this week on Tuesday, following one of the most historical Special Olympics World Games, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics.

DeVos was quoted in several articles saying she thinks the Special Olympics is an “awesome organization” but believes the $17.6 million in funding it receives should be cut. If approved, this cut would ultimately affect 272,000 kids—a number DeVos was not aware of when asked how many would be affected by this cut after stating her proposal.

Supporters of the Special Olympics rallied together on social media to share their shock and disgust toward the proposal, sharing personal stories, opinions and criticisms.

On this page, just as I did on social media, I join this rally proudly. I join it for my 17-year-old brother, Michael, who has autism and is a Special Olympics athlete. I join it for all of the Special Olympics athletes and all of the individuals who have a disability. I join it to support the individuals who are singled out and seen as different because they do not fall under what society has decided to label as “normal.” I join it for the sake of human decency because let’s be honest, there is not a lot of it left these days.

Since 1968, the Special Olympics has been encouraging the world to include and find the potential in everyone. DeVos’s proposal not only eliminates funding, but it eliminates this mission that the Special Olympics has spent the past five decades trying to achieve.

The Special Olympics is one of the few environments where my younger brother and other individuals with disabilities are celebrated, accepted and included. It is one of the few environments where they can find confidence and fulfillment. It is one of the few environments where they are part of a community rather than outside of one.

This proposal is inhumane. Simple as that. The effect it would have on individuals with disabilities and their families would be irrevocable. The damage would not only retrograde any progress that has been made toward inclusion, but also it would eliminate most of the opportunities and almost all of the hope these individuals have to seek their full potential in this world.

This ignorance and absolute lack of compassion cannot simply be swept under the rug. This proposal, and the thought to even conceive it in general, reveals a lot about the direction our government and our country are heading—and it is not the right one.

Carole Hodorowicz is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].