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The torch carries on as Special Olympics adapt

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As organizations work to find their footing amid the COVID pandemic, one well known group said it’s unsure how the future will pan out. Special Olympics Michigan said it’s moved events online. With some of its biggest fundraisers still ahead, there is still uncertainty for the future of the organization.

When the pandemic hit Special Olympics Michigan was in the middle of its spring basketball competitions, they had to put that and other plans on hold. Spokesman Aaron Mills said they had to quickly decide how their events would adapt.

“When we were looking ahead to the state summer games we were realizing having a week long event with overnights and people coming in from all over the state was not gonna be in the cards, we ended up having a virtual summer games experience from home as best we could and the reaction was really great,” said Mills.

The summer games operated by having sponsors, volunteers, and athletes all send in videos. Even from home they were able to hold around 20 different events for the competitors. Mills said events for the forseeable future will look similar. What is harder to forsee, he said, is how fundraising will go. Fundraising season begins in early fall and only ramps up as it gets into winter said Mills.

“We’re going into the great unknown with these first couple big  fundraisers to see how they go. The big test for us will be come polar plunge on the other side of the new year, typically Special Olympics Michigan lives on a 7 to 8 million dollar budget throughout the whole year, and polar plunges raise anywhere from about 1 to 1.5 million dollars,” Mills said.

Mills said a lot of their financial planning for the year may come down to if polar plunge can happen. With Covid-19 still an issue Mills said planning ahead has been and will continue to be a major challenge.