Special Olympics in need of funding

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A high five, a smile, and a hug are common for all athletes when you win, no matter who you are.

"I'm so proud," said Nancy Ortiz, who has a son with special needs.

Nancy Ortiz's son, Joseph, is one of 700 athletes in our area who participate in the Special Olympics.

"We've really, really enjoyed just watching him," said Ortiz.

Whether it's a volleyball match or a bowling tournament, these athletes need one thing to make each activity happen, the cash. Organizers said there are no automatic funds for Special Olympics in schools, so coaches have to think of ways to find donations.

"Special Olympics pretty much operates off contributions and volunteers in order for our events to take place," said Area Co -Director for Special Olympics of Greater Knoxville Tim Lee. "We have to have the funding to host them and choose the venues to host the events."

But all athletes have the same will to play.

"They have the same respect for the integrity of the sport as any athletes, they have the excitement and drive that anyone else would," said Lee.

"The stereotype of special needs individuals isn't quite accurate, where they can also participate in a sport just like other individuals do," said Ortiz.

It's more than just a strike at the bowling alley to the Ortiz family, it's bigger than sports.

"We've been really amazed how he overcomes challenges, sometimes on a different level, but he does experience great success with Special Olympics and all the athletes do," said Ortiz.

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