ESPN personalities were among those who took to social media to support the Special Olympics after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos went to Congress Tuesday to defend a budget proposal that would cut funding for it and other education programs.
DeVos appeared before the House Appropriations subcommittee, where she was grilled by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., over the cuts that would eliminate nearly $18 million in federal funding to the Special Olympics, NBC News reported. Pocan asked DeVos if she knew “how many kids are going to affected by that cut?” She responded that she didn’t.
"I’ll answer it for you, that's OK, no problem," he said. "It’s 272,000 kids that are affected."
The budget proposal calls for an overall $7 billion cut from the Department of Education's spending. Despite the slash, her budget would pour millions into funding charter schools. The Special Olympics received $17.6 million from the Education Department this year, but DeVos said it should be supported through philanthropy, The Associated Press reported.
ESPN personality Julie Foudy tweeted, “Please read this @BetsyDeVos. God, you need to only spend .01 minute watching these @SpecialOlympics athletes perform to understand the power of this program.”
Tony Reali, host of “Around the Horn,” tweeted, “The power of sports lies in the ability to instill & inspire positive change-& that’s at the core of what @SpecialOlympics does.”
ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi tweeted the stories of those who participated in the Special Olympics.
Jen Lada of ESPN tweeted, “Special Olympics CHANGES LIVES. That’s not hyperbole. Some of the most joyful, strong, courageous, inspiring, determined, positive people on the planet are @SpecialOlympics athletes. They are the best of us.”
Aside from ESPN personalities, a number of celebrities also tweeted at DeVos regarding the proposed cuts to the Special Olympics.
Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin tweeted, “Please RT [retweet]. The benefits of Special Olympics, which I have seen first hand as volunteer, are immeasurable. DeVos proposal to cut their funding will adversely affect thousands with developmental disabilities. Don’t let this happen! I support @SpecialOlympics.”
“Who does this? WHO DOES THIS?” Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.