Support Special Olympics locally

Posted: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I am writing regarding the current fundraising efforts of Special Olympics Alaska. Juneau residents may receive a phone call or letter in the mail seeking donations for Special Olympics Alaska. This is one of their main fundraisers of the year and it is a statewide effort.

The problem is that most donations to Special Olympics Alaska stay with the state office (Anchorage Special Olympics office) and only a small portion is shared with any of the other Special Olympics chapters in the state. The only way any of these donations are shared with Juneau Special Olympics athletes is if they travel to Anchorage to take part in the Statewide Alaska Special Olympics games, which are always held in Anchorage.

Also, the only two things the state office will cover for Juneau athletes is their room and board while in Anchorage. It is entirely up to the Juneau Special Olympics participants to fund raise their own money to cover both the registration fees and the air fare to Anchorage for the athletes.

The Special Olympics Alaska committee, headquartered in Anchorage, has never given airfare money to the Juneau Special Olympics delegation to help defray the huge cost of getting the local Juneau athletes to Anchorage. But I seriously doubt this is something they will tell you in their fundraising letters or phone calls.

A case in point is the recent statewide Special Olympics bowling tournament held in Anchorage. The Anchorage office allotted Juneau slots for 20 bowlers, but the local team could only afford registration fees and airfare for eight bowlers. Those eight bowlers were chosen basically by lottery. In the past, I have witnessed the disappointment of the athletes not chosen. Some of them do not understand why and it is heartbreaking to see.

The director of Juneau Special Olympics, Chris Ullrich, also sends out fundraising letters to local addresses but these letters have the Juneau Special Olympics address: PO Box 22124; Juneau, AK 99802. The letters from the Anchorage office look more like an invoice with dollar amounts for you to choose from.

Juneau Special Olympics have a wonderful core of volunteers and the athletes themselves are always such a joy to be around. I encourage the citizens of Juneau to support our wonderful local Special Olympics program. Thank you.

Charley Larson


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