GRIMES, Iowa — The Trump Administration’s proposal to eliminate federal funding to the Special Olympics drew outrage from many. However, President Trump withdrew the proposal and said $18 million in federal funding will continue. Even so, local organizations are growing and continue to look for ways to provide their own funding.
Special Olympics Iowa has their annual Texas Roadhouse Luncheon at 11 Texas Roadhouse locations across Iowa Thursday: Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Dubuque, Sioux City, and Urbandale.
This free lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. is served by local law enforcement who are also collecting donations for those with physical or intellectual disabilities.
“Their smiles, their heart, they keep you grounded. They are just amazing, amazing people that deserve a chance to do what they want to do and do what everybody else does,” City of Altoona Senior Police Officer Melodee Tufs said.
Special Olympics Iowa said being active and joining a community has transformative powers on a person’s mood and overall quality of life.
Britt Sandahl has been a special Olympic athlete for 33 years. Beginning in junior high, she now participates year-round.
“I’ve met so many people over the years, I’ve made a plethora of friends,” Sandahl said.
Not only has Sandahl made friends and found a community, she has learned life skills as a global messenger for Special Olympics Iowa. For the last two years, she goes out into the community and gives speeches about inclusion using herself as an example.
“I want them to know that yes, I have an intellectual disability, I have a brain injury, but I want to be included. I want to be involved in things,” Sandahl said.
She wants the public to understand the importance of a community like Special Olympics Iowa and how the organization has many physical and mental health benefits.
“It’s great not only for my physical health to get out and actually physically do sports but it’s great for my mental health as well. Just to get out of the apartment, get out, you know, and be with all those friends. Special Olympics is a family, it really is,” Sandahl said.
The free Texas Roadhouse lunch will feature a select menu that will include a pulled pork sandwich, side, rolls, honey cinnamon butter, and a beverage of either tea, pop or water.
They are asking for any donations the public wants to provide. Donations of $50, or more, will receive a 20 or 32-ounce tumbler while supplies last.