GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- Jimmy Davidson will soon celebrate 13 years as a Special Olympic athlete.
"Once I started, I didn't want to stop," Davidson said.
He plays basketball, softball, bowling, soccer and track and field, but the Special Olympics is more to him than just an opportunity to play sports.
"It changed my life," Davidson said. "It helped me grow into the person I've always wanted to be."
Davidson told NewsWatch12 that he faced several challenges growing up — a big one was bullying.
"I was picked on a lot, mostly because I was different," Davidson said. "But now I know I'm not different."
His mom passed away ten years ago. Davidson says his teammates were there for him then, too.
"Most of my teammates are like my brothers and sisters."
Davidson isn't alone. Britt Oase, the CEO of Oregon's Special Olympics, says there are 64,000 students in Oregon that are impacted by Special Olympic programs.
The nation faces a $17.6 million cut to the Special Olympics. This is in addition to 28 other programs that are also facing cuts. President Trump says this will save $6.7 billion in 2020.
The Trump administration's budget plan for 2020 calls for increased military spending and sharp cuts to programs like education and environmental protection. The budget will eliminate funding for 29 programs. One of those 29 programs that might be cut is the Special Olympics.
The programs on the list to cut were selected because they are programs that have already acheived their original purpose. Additionally, Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, said in a statement on Wednesday that the Special Olympics is able to raise more than $100 million every year from donors.
"Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program," DeVos said. "Particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations."
Anothony Hauckes, the Josephine County Sports Manager of Special Olympics, says it's these programs have made a world of difference for Davidson. Hauckes has watched Davidson grow over the years.
"He's a great athlete for sure," Hauckes said. "He's always wanting to learn and I think that's one of the most important things."
Davidson thinks his mom would agree with Hauckes.
"If she were here now, she would be proud of me and what I've been doing," Davidson said.
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