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Special Olympics Oregon

­March 25, 2019 -

Special Olympics Oregon athletes and supporters,

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) has made significant progress in the effort to reorganize after being faced with significant budget difficulties discovered in June 2018. Since then, new board leadership and SOOR executive leadership – along with stakeholder support – have taken action to move our organization forward to a place of increasing stability and services for all deserving Oregonians.

Over the past nine months, new SOOR board leadership has been elected; a new chief executive officer and chief financial officer have been hired; SOOR state office operating expenses have been reduced significantly; donors have contributed philanthropy to reduce organizational debt; and an operational plan has been created to provide a path forward for SOOR. Changes include Ed Ray’s acceptance of the role as board chair in September, and former Governor Barbara Roberts and Mike Golub’s agreement to co-chair a new SOOR finance committee. Meanwhile, in collaboration with Special Olympics North America, our state organization’s board structure and governance practices have been enhanced.
In September, we promised a full financial review of the circumstances that brought SOOR to financial instability and the need to reduce programs and staffing. The board of directors commissioned the accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) to conduct an independent audit and determine if any malfeasance had occurred within SOOR. CLA reviewed SOOR’s financial records from 2013 through early 2018 and conducted interviews.

SOOR’s board recently received the results of this audit and analysis report. The audit did report concerns about financial reporting and management actions from 2014 to early 2018. The board is evaluating those reports and will decide appropriate actions, including transmitting the report to the Oregon Department of Justice for its further consideration. While the board is concerned by reports of possible past deficient reporting practices, it is satisfied with the completed results of the audit, and is moving ahead to take all necessary corrective action.

We are proud of the steps being taken to move SOOR forward. And we are humbled by the support provided SOOR when it was needed the most. Since June 2018, SOOR’s debt has been reduced by $1.5 million, and our focus is dedicated to serving all deserving Oregonians, providing opportunities for community volunteer engagement throughout the state, building dynamic partnerships with companies who value diversity, equity and inclusion and increasing philanthropic contributions to impact the athletes throughout Oregon. Examples of this mission and focus are the hundreds of people in Portland, Corvallis, Bend, Medford and Eugene who braved frigid waters in February to participate in the Polar Plunge to raise money for SOOR.

Looking ahead, Special Olympics Oregon will remain a grassroots organization with 30 very meaningful and locally-led volunteer-run programs. We will continue the growth of our Unified Champion Schools program to engage more and more students with and without intellectual disabilities to participate together in sports, creating more inclusive schools for all. In collaboration with our newly created Athlete Input Council – input from SOOR volunteer leaders, corporate partners, donors, and support from businesses and individuals – we are building a new era of Special Olympics Oregon.

Be assured that SOOR’s progress and its future will always include a commitment to a sustainable mission, operating structure and finances to serve the athletes for decades to come.

We sincerely thank you for your steadfast support and engagement in Special Olympics Oregon.

Edward J. Ray                                   Britt Carlson Oase
Chair, Board of Directors                Chief Executive Officer



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