Special Olympics New Mexico loses chunk of state funding

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A nonprofit that has gotten state funding for 34 years is feeling the fallout of the state’s budget woes. Special Olympics New Mexico is making adjustments after taking a 50 percent cut in state funding.

“Our state appropriation is $310,000 and that was cut by 50 percent,” said Randy Mascorella, executive director for Special Olympics New Mexico.

She said the state contribution constituted about 15 percent of the organization’s budget. Special Olympics New Mexico has a contract with the Developmental Disabilities Service Commission, which is part of the State Health Department.

“Nonprofits run rather lean, and we don’t have a lot of wiggle room and places to cut without cutting services,” Mascorella said.

“And so we’re working very hard to try to find strategies and find ways we can replace those dollars, so no athlete and no family goes without services and the quality of services we deliver,” she added.

Mascorella said she understands the state’s financial issues, with the declining energy sector, and is grateful for the state’s contribution to Special Olympics.

“We’re deeply grateful for that appropriation. Special Olympics New Mexico would not be what it is today,” she said.

She said involvement is much more than the games for Special Olympics athletes, some of whom are in their seventies. They include the banquets and dances.

“All of these things provide them some of the best moments life has to offer. It’s not just sport. It’s the entire Special Olympics experience, and that’s what we don’t want to ever take away from them if possible,” Mascorella said.

“They like being together, and especially the big thing after the games, the victory dance,” said Alvino Chacon, whose daughter Grace participates. “These kids get in there, and they don’t come out until the music stops. It’s really something,” he said.

KRQE News 13 also interviewed two Special Olympics athletes who expressed their love for the organization.

Grace Chacon has traveled to New Jersey and China representing the Special Olympics. “It’s fun,” she said.

“I like to win the gold metals like Michael Phelps. He is an awesome athlete,” said Abe Assaad, 25. “I compete in basketball. I play offense and defense like the Lobos,” he added.

Assaad competed in Athens, Greece.

The Special Olympics always welcomes donations, Mascorella said.

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