The Wichita Independents Special Olympics Kansas participate in sporting events year round.
“We just got done with the state basketball tournament in Hays and Topeka,” said Kim Mudd, Volunteer Director with the Wichita Independents. “We are getting ready to start track and field next week.”
Activities that take quite a bit of cash in order to participate.
“When we went to Hays, we had 80 plus hotel rooms so that bill was like $12,000,” said Mudd.
Local teams like Wichita Independents depend on fundraising, donations and grants to survive.
“We do candy bar sales, Saturday we’re having a pancake feed, we have a Mexican dinner, we’re doing all kinds of things just to raise money to keep us afloat,” said Mudd.
At the state level, the organization tells KSN it received $50,000 in federal grants this year.
According to officials, the Special Olympics Kansas has received grants for the past 11 years. The amount of the grant varies from year-to-year.
“Last year, we received $25,000 this year we asked for additional funds because we wanted to grow the [Unified Champion School] program,” said Heather Waters, Sr. Vice President of Communications Special Olympics Kansas.
Currently 26 middle and high schools and four universities including Wichita State, participate in the Unified Champion School programs.
“We have another 20 schools who have shown interest in starting programs this year including community colleges. Our long-term goal is to have these programs in every K-12 district and college/university in the state.”
The federal funding goes to the Special Olympics North America, and then, the state organization applies for the grant every year, according to officials.
While the funds are used to support mostly the schools and universities that participate in the Unified Champion school program, officials said the federal funds trickle down to the local teams.
“And so some of the money we receive from the state is going to go those athletes for uniforms, for equipment to put on competition for those local teams,” said Waters.
To learn more about the Special Olympics Kansas click here.
To learn more about Wichita Independent’s Pancake and Sausage feed fundraiser click here.