By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
Chris Morgan’s voice was light and chipper, a stark contrast to her strained tone of last week when she was lamenting the loss of funds she raised for regional Special Olympic programs.
The community stepped up and donated almost $5,500 after Morgan told her story to the CNJ.
The mother of a Special Olympics participant, Morgan said she got an oil change Aug. 16, and left behind a deposit bag filled with about $1,400 in donation money she had been collecting since May. When she went back to look for it, it was gone, she said.
Morgan said Wednesday she had “walked around crying for three days” after the money went missing.
After the newspaper story ran and a local radio personalities Rooney and Moon featured Morgan’s’ story on the air, donations started coming in, she said.
By the next day, the money had been replaced and then some. A bank also agreed to stop payment on a $700 cashier’s check that was among the missing monies, she said.
“It’s like a ton was lifted from my shoulders,” she said. “People, they’re awesome. I couldn’t believe it.”
The radio station raised about $1,600, a local organization donated $1,400, an anonymous donor gave $2,000 and more than $400 was raised in smaller donations, Regional Special Olympics Coordinator Pat Dodson said.
“I told her God would provide and not to worry about it,” Dodson said of efforts to assuage Morgan’s guilt over the lost money.
“It’s just amazing how people are. It’s awesome. We feel happy that the community reached out and helped out and helped her recover that money, because I know she felt really bad about it,” she said.
Dodson said the regional Special Olympics group spends between $11,000 and $16,000 a year paying for athletes to practice and travel to events.
The local group serves between 30 and 40 disabled children and adults in Curry, Roosevelt and De Baca counties.
Dodson estimated Morgan single-handedly puts $2,000 to $4,000 into the local Special Olympics coffers each year.
Morgan said the local Special Olympics still has one more need — cheerleaders.
She encouraged community members to attend the Special Olympics equestrian events scheduled for Sept. 12-13 at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.
“A lot of those kids can’t thank you because they can’t talk, but if you go to the Special Olympics and see those smiles, you’ll know,” she said.
“And we need cheerleaders. The kids love it when they have people clapping for them.”