COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. -- Over 30 protesters made up of Special Olympics athletes and volunteers chanted and waved signs at Opal Park Wednesday demanding Special Olympics Oregon return the money they say went missing from their account.
Michelle Portmann, a local educator, left $50,000 to Special Olympics Cottage Grove after her death in 2011. The money was supposed to be used strictly for the Cottage Grove Special Olympics.
Volunteers thought the money would last them for generations and cover the cost of equipment and other expenses. But local volunteers said state organizers recently told them they have a negative balance in their account.
“We want them to admit they used the money, and we want them to come up with an agreement with exactly how much they owe us and a plan to pay it back,” said Carmen Dowell, a volunteer for the Cottage Grove branch. “We have all the evidence it was taken from their website.”
RELATED HEADLINE: PROTEST PLANNED OVER MISSING COTTAGE GROVE SPECIAL OLYMPICS FUNDS
In a statement, Special Olympics Oregon said the new executive leadership has been working to identify the facts regarding the gift provided in support of the Cottage Grove program. They said audited financials from 2012 to 2016 show the gift was applied as intended.
According to audited financial statements, the balances were:
• 2012: $44,238
• 2013: $35,966
• 2014: $29,19
• 2015: $22,152
• 2016: $14,034
Special Olympics Oregon said financial statements for 2017 are still in the audit process. Local volunteers said there is no way they spent that much money, adding their annual expenses run around $3,000.
Another document from Special Olympics Oregon shows the account still had over $50,000 at the end of 2016. KEZI 9 News reached out to Special Olympics Oregon about the discrepancy between the two listed account balances for 2016, but our question went unanswered.
In a statement, Special Olympics Oregon said they look forward to working with all local volunteers to rebuild Special Olympics Oregon to a full slate of competition and programming for their athletes.