TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Athletes and their families are outraged after Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed $7 billion in spending cuts to educational programs, including $18 million in cuts to the Special Olympics organization.
For Thomas Shervington, the Special Olympics is more than just a hobby or an extra-curricular activity. It's essentially the source of everything that's good in his life. It's the reason he has a job, friends and confidence. He says he doesn't know where he would be without it, and simply doesn't want any young athletes to miss out on the opportunity.
“Special Olympics has changed my life,” he said.
As he and his mother Buffie Shervington explained, the Special Olympics means more than just a medal.
“He has gone from a shy, withdrawn child who barely had any friends, who couldn’t go to the playground because kids misunderstood him, to now a gold medal winning athlete," Shervington said. "A confident young man.”
He reached major milestones she said wouldn’t have otherwise been reached without the Special Olympics, but now it's uncertain how the organization would have to adjust.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is now facing backlash after proposing to cut about $18 million in federal funding to the organization as part of the Department of Education's new budget.
The $18 million in funding make up for roughly 10 percent of the organization’s annual revenue.
“I’m very shocked when I heard about this and I’m kind of disappointed about it too,” he said.
Shervington, who has autism, is thankful for the experience but worried about the impact the cuts will have on young children once like him.