State budget grants $30K to Dare County Special Olympics

By on June 2, 2018

More than 70 athletes participated in 14 events at the 2018 Spring Games at First Flight High School. (Facebook)

Tucked in the budget for North Carolina state government headed for Gov. Cooper’s signature is an appropriation of a grant-in-aid for $30,000 to the Dare County Special Olympics.

While it may not seem like much in a nearly $24 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1, to one of the leaders of the local program, it’s monumental.

“It’s like hitting the Powerball!” said Kathleen Morgan, co-coordinator of Dare County Special Olympics, which provides athletic programs to those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

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The grant is part of an overall $3,165,307 in non-recurring funds spread across 74 fire departments, law enforcement agencies, local governments, emergency management offices, and non-profit organizations statewide.

Morgan said they are still waiting to find out if there are any restrictions on how the money can be spent, but local organizers will find a way to make the one-time appropriation have a lasting impact on the program

“This appropriation will make a difference in the lives our I.D.D. community,” Morgan said.

While real uniforms, travel bags and equipment could be funded with the grant, she listed many other possibilities.

“We could finally be able to fully reach our athletes in Hatteras or we can have more training programs for all our athletes,” Morgan said.

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Kathleen Morgan (right) and her husband and coach K.E. (left) with athletes who competed earlier this month at a swim meet in Suffolk. (Facebook)

“We’ve always wanted to do a young athletes program, before they are eight years old, so that by the time they can participate in regular Special Olympics they are trained and ready to go,” Morgan said.

Dare County Special Olympics already offers aquatics, basketball, bocce, bowling, cheerleading, equestrian, track and field and volleyball.

According to Morgan, the grant could give them the ability to add tennis.

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The $30,000 grant was not something Dare County Special Olympics had been actively seeking, according to Morgan, but she has an idea about how it may have happened.

Morgan credited state Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, and late-Dare County Commissioner Warren Judge for their active participation in the Spring Games for many years.

“Warren, and now his wife Tess, have always been a part of our opening ceremonies and events,” Morgan said. “And Sen. Cook has always presented the awards to our athletes at the Spring Games.”

Morgan said Cook’s legislative assistant Jordan Hennessy called her Tuesday morning about the grant, less than 12 hours after the budget bill was rolled out by Republican House and Senate leaders.

“Maybe we were appropriated this money because they were aware of what we do in Dare County for our special athletes,” Morgan said. “I’m hoping we brought awareness and maybe it will bring about more awareness in our whole country for our I.D.D. community.”

The budget bill is headed to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, after gaining approval this week in the Senate and House.

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