To All My Friends who care about the homeless, Ashton Smith needs your HELP. She is blind and homeless. Her story was told by NBC DFW in January 2019 and captured in this byline: “Once Homeless, Fort Worth Special Olympian Headed to World Game”. She was a gold and silver medal winner in Dubai, UAE.
Her accomplishments never pulled her out of poverty. In fact, it only worsened her situation. She is still blind and homeless, living in the DFW area. Moreover, she is more than $5,000 in debt from having to pay all the expenses related to her trip overseas. The grandmother who once took care of her passed away, and more recently her sister passed, leaving her no option but to panhandle on the streets, unable to work because of her visual impairment and having no job skills. Special Olympics was her whole life for 27 years. The YMCA was her only refuge from the homeless camp.
There is a deeper, much darker side of the Special Olympics that nobody ever talks about, because most Special Olympians are mentally challenged and wholly supported by their parents. They are not allowed commercial sponsorship. They must pay for their own accommodations, food, shoes, and other expenses, which are the reasons behind Ashton’s current debt and the stresses associated with homelessness.
On the other hand, in 2018 the Texas chapter of the Special Olympics earned $7.9 million. They paid $443,000 in executive salaries, $200,000 to a Telemarketing firm to do fundraising, and $3.2 million to other salaries (office staff, trainers, and coaches). They even pay travel expenses for staff. Just not for the athletes.
Expressing her grievances may have been the reason Ashton is no longer an official Special Olympian.
She started a GoFund Me page to buy an OrCam for visual impaired people. Your help will greatly be appreciated.