Rep. Katko Leads Bipartisan Effort to Fully Fund Special Olympics

Washington, D.C. — In response to the Department of Education’s budget proposal to eliminate federal support for Special Olympics education programs, U.S. Rep. John  Katko (NY-24) today joined Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-18), Brian Fitzpatrick (R, PA-01), and Joe Kennedy (D, MA-04) in leading a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that the organization receive full federal funding. The letter was cosigned by over 60 members of Congress.

Rep. John Katko (NY-24)

“Every American should have the opportunity to experience the joys of sports and lead a healthy lifestyle.  Sports and physical activity are essential to character development and learning to collaborate with peers,” said Rep. Katko. “Special Olympics education programs are critical to ensuring Americans of all abilities have access to these opportunities, and serve as a mechanism for creating more inclusive environments across the country. I strongly support fully funding Special Olympics education programs.”

The text of the letter requesting that the committee appropriate the fully authorized funding level of $17.6 million for these programs is below.

Dear Chairwoman DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole:

As you consider the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we respectfully urge you to fully fund Special Olympics education programs to the authorized level of $17.6 million.

Since its founding in 1968, Special Olympics has fought for rights and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities through sport.  Today, Special Olympics is a global movement of over 5.1 million athletes and 1.1 million volunteers working to create an inclusive world for all. With the help of authorizations under the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act of 2004, Special Olympics introduced Unified Champion Schools to create inclusive school climates for students with and without disabilities.

Today, nearly 3 million young people participate in the 6,500 Unified Champion Schools across the United States. Roughly 272,000 students have the opportunity to participate in Unified Sports. With the help of federal funding, Special Olympics will reach 7,500 schools by the end of this school year, transforming school climates by reducing bullying and helping students, teachers and administrator create a community of acceptance and respect. 

We thank you for your support of these critical education programs for students with and without disabilities and we urge you to fully fund them in the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.