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President Trump announced he's backing off of his budget request to cut funding for Special Olympics

Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 18:04:12-04

After days of pressure, Trump announced Thursday he's backing off of his budget request to cut funding for Special Olympics.

That meas it will continue to receive nearly $18 million in Federal funding.

Earlier on Thursday we spoke Stacey Hengsterman, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York, on how this could have affected thousands of Special Olympis athletes.

Bone chilling fundraising events like the Polar Plunge help provide money to organizations like Special Olympics New York.

In return, the charity is able to provide a sports program to schools called The Unified Champions School Program, which brings students of all intellectual abilities together.

Another source of funding for Special Olympics comes from the U.S Department of Education.

But if that got cut, Hengsterman said it would be a major obstacle.

"It will absolutely slow us down. This is the most, this is the majority of our unified funding," she said.

Hengsterman said there are 145 Unified Champions schools in New York State.

She said it's a Federal mandate that schools have to provide extra-curricular activities to students with intellectual disabilities, but not every school is able to do that.

That's what Special Olympics New York helps them with.

"For the students with intellectual disabilities, they're more included in the fabric of the high school," said Hengsterman.

And for students without disabilities, they get a chance to become teammates with someone might not otherwise come across in class.

"We see tremendous changes in that student. In their confidence level, they're also now participating on a school's sports team that they might not have had the opportunity to," said Hengsterman. "But also understanding and making new friends. We use this funding to support them and help them build a unified sports program, and also a curriculum around tolerance and inclusion, anti-bullying. That's what this money is for. "