Leadership of Special Olympics North Carolina,
We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience as we, like every other organization in the country, continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and make difficult decisions about how to move forward while keeping the health and safety of everyone involved as a top priority.
On Tuesday, 3/10, we shared the decision by Special Olympics International (SOI) to suspend all sports training and competition for Special Olympics athletes through March 31.
Due to recent developments, including N.C. Governor Roy Cooper’s most recent announcement on March 12, Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) has decided to extend this decision through May 15. There are several outside organizations and host facilities that have already determined that local spring games are cancelled and we know there are more to come. Additionally, the availability of volunteer groups is questionable as many civic groups, churches, companies, etc. are advising their members against being in large groups. There are also fundraising initiatives that are questionable which will inevitably impact local funding on some level. All of these factors have contributed to our decision.
We do encourage you all to work with all of your local sponsors on shifting their funding focus from spring games to the other programming you have throughout the year. Please encourage them to continue to contribute.
Here is how we ask all local programs to proceed with activities through May 15:
- All sport practices should be cancelled.
- All sport events should be cancelled.
- All health and wellness programming should be cancelled.
- Fundraising events may proceed on a case-by-case basis, meaning we will carefully assess the risk in collaboration with local or national health agencies. Special Olympics athlete involvement needs to be reviewed so that the safety of the athletes is not compromised. Athletes who may want to participate in fundraising events should do so after consulting their parents/guardians if they are not their own guardian and all should feel comfortable that it will not jeopardize their health and well-being.
- Unified Champion Schools activities happening within the schools will not be impacted by this decision. All will be determined, rather, by the associated school district and will follow their direction. We are all starting to see school districts make their own decisions and the recent suspension of high school sports by the N.C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) will impact activities as well.
A decision regarding the state-level Summer Games will be made by March 20. We fully acknowledge that athletes will not be in a position to train and prepare for the SONC Summer Games. We are, however, spending more time looking at our options and will be consulting with the SONC Board next week before making a final decision.
We are all extremely disappointed to be in a position where we cannot offer every opportunity possible to athletes across the state but this decision is of course based on the current circumstances and again, with everyone’s health and well-being at the forefront.
We will continue to be in communication with you over the coming weeks and we look forward to resuming activities as soon as possible.
Keith L. Fishburne
President & CEO
Special Olympics North Carolina