EUGENE, Ore. -- Special Olympics athletes across Oregon may have to wait till 2022 to compete in state games.
Special Olympics Oregon CEO Britt Oase said the 2020 state games have been canceled, the third year in a row, and they may not happen again in 2021.
Oease said they've had to make some tough decisions to bounce back from a financial crisis. She said when she joined the organization in 2018, they were $2.5 million in debt. They hope to be debt-free next year.
"It's going to require a little bit of patience to make sure that we build this in the right way and that we don't go too fast and go into a situation where we have to go backwards," Oase said.
Oaes said regional competitions are happening, and they have seen a lot of support from around the state. She said this year's Polar Plunge events have surpassed their goal of $450,000. She said those funds are being used to help support the athletes and their programs.
PHOTO GALLERY: POLAR PLUNGE 2020
Janine Nielsen's son Eric competes in Special Olympics events. She said watching her son compete at the state level brings tears of joy to her eyes.
"It's like any kind of Olympics where people celebrate, they have fun," Nielsen said. "Families get together, volunteers, it's just a wonderful celebration and affirmation of life."
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