News & Events
Golisano Foundation Funds Training for 40 Healthcare Professionals from Several States to Screen Special Olympics Athletes for Health Problems
Tom Golisano Personally Donates $150,000 to Expand Training in United States
With the help of the Golisano Foundation, 40 doctors and other health care professionals from New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Georgia, California, and Washington, D.C., were trained through the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program to screen individuals with intellectual disabilities participating in Special Olympics events.
Special Olympics senior clinicians led the training September 24 at the Radisson Hotel in Rochester, and Saturday September 25, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Thornell Farms Park, where 500 Special Olympics athletes participating in the Special Olympics New York Fall Classic Game and the majority received free health care screenings.
- In addition to the Golisano Foundation’s support, Tom Golisano made a personal donation of $150,000 to Special Olympics at a dinner following training on September 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Radisson.
- Golisano also threw out the ceremonial ball during the Games’ opening ceremonies on Saturday.
“I am pleased to play a role to enhance the Healthy Athletes program and am confidant that Special Olympics International will continue to break new ground, expand access and improve the quality of health care for individuals with intellectual disabilities,” said Golisano. “I look forward to great progress over the next few years on this important and exciting initiative.”
“This was the largest regional Healthy Athletes training program ever held, and we hope it will serve as a model for future such events throughout the United States,” said Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation.
Expanding training and increasing the number of health care professionals capable of providing screenings at Special Olympics events will help meet the unmet healthcare needs of people with intellectual disabilities, and ensure that athletes can receive follow-up care.
Data findings revealed through Healthy Athletes paint an overwhelming need for comprehensive health care among people with intellectual disabilities.
- More than 75% of Special Olympics athletes in U.S. are overweight or obese.
- 30% of Special Olympics athletes failed hearing tests – a rate more than six times the national average;
- 35% had untreated vision issues, cannot see well, and/or need new or different prescription glasses, while 6% have serious untreated eye diseases;
- 35% of athletes have obvious tooth decay in their molar teeth, up to 50% have obvious gum infections, 12% report being in pain at the time of the exam, and 15% require urgent care;
- 20% have evidence of osteoporosis or osteopenia (weakened bones).
About the Golisano Foundation
The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the nation devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with developmental disabilities so that they may achieve their maximum potentials by integrating independence, self-determination, and productivity into all facets of their lives.
Founded 25 years ago in 1985 with an initial gift of $90,000 from B. Thomas Golisano, the founder and Chairman of Paychex, the Foundation now has more than $28 million in gross assets and has awarded more than $14 million in grants to non-profit organizations in the Rochester, New York region.
The Foundation also serves as a proactive partner with providers, organizations, and the community to enable those with disabilities to more fully participate in the life of the community and create an environment of dignity and care for disabled individuals and their families.
About Healthy Athletes
Special Olympics Healthy Athletes is the largest public health organization in the world dedicated to the health of people with intellectual disabilities and maintains the largest database of health information for this population in existence. With programs in more than 100 countries, the program has provided more than 1,000,000 health screenings, as well as products such as eyeglasses, sunglasses, and hearing aids, completely free of charge.
Healthy Athletes provides health screenings in seven areas: Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest (sports physical exam), Opening Eyes (vision), and Special Smiles (dentistry). Offered in a fun, welcoming environment, Healthy Athletes events remove the anxiety and trepidation people with intellectual disabilities often experience when faced with a visit to a doctor or dentist.