SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – After creating A Sporting Chance in 1993, founder Dick Jones is hanging up his whistle for good.
“I’m retiring because I’ve been ill for a year and a half with we don’t know what we’re going to find out,” Jones said. “That’s the reason I’m retiring, it’s health issues that not quite sure what’s going on.”
Jones says he created A Sporting Chance as an outlet for people with disabilities, as well as people facing at-risk situations or economically disadvantaged.
However, with Jones’ retirement, there’s uncertainty about the future of A Sporting Chance.
“It’s really hard to hire somebody when there’s no money to do that,” Jones said. “Our biggest fundraiser at the end of the year raised $18,000 less than it was supposed to. Those things helped put it in jeopardy.”
With Jones stepping down and rumors of the group dissolving, ASC athletes are taking in what could be the last night of sports.
“It’s kind of sad. I’m going to miss him.” Don Barton said.
“It’s kind of hard, but most time I kind of go fishing and get it out of my head because I know it’s coming.” Jemes Dehammer said. “It’s going to be hard for a lot of parents and a lot of athletes.”
One of those people includes Mike Copeland, brother of athlete Mark Copeland.
“These athletes that play in this, it’s something they can look forward to every week or every season.” Mike Copeland said. “They can look forward to doing something and it’s probably going to go away.”
Copeland talked to KOLR10 about what it was like hearing about Jones’ retirement.
“It was a sad day. It was a sad day in the Copeland household. I understand. I get it.” Copeland said. “I know Dick has been struggling for a while now, but it is a sad day.”
Jones says, while emotional, after he’s retired, his efforts won’t stop, even if A Sporting Chance is no more.
“As long as I’m alive and well, if I’m capable, they’ll have me as an outlet. We can go play golf, some of us together.” Jones said. “We won’t let them just fall for the wayside. That will not happen. I love what I do. I always have.”