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SPECIAL OLYMPICS IS DOING INVALUABLE WORK

The Jan. 19 News article "Gifts gone astray" has raised an issue about how Special Olympics raises funds around the state and, specifically, in Western New York. As president and chief executive officer of Special Olympics New York, I would like to respond.

Our mission is to provide year-round athletic training and competition in 22 Olympic-style sports to 40,000 children and adults with mental retardation. To that end, the state organization supports and sponsors athletic training and competition throughout New York, including Buffalo.

How? By organizing and hosting more than 30 state and sectional competitions per year, and by providing more than 100 coaching clinics.

Also, once every two years the state organization raises funds to send a contingent of athletes to the World Games. Last year, more than 90 athletes and coaches from New York attended these games.

In addition, our staff members work each day in support of local Special Olympics programs in every corner of the state.

The funds we raise through special events, sponsorships and, yes, through telemarketing help us support a variety of statewide public education and public awareness campaigns.

For 30 years, we have been helping to improve the quality of life for citizens with mental retardation throughout this state, and this has had a tremendous impact on their families and on their communities.

NEAL J. JOHNSON

Schenectady

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