September 20, 2022

2022 Global Golisano Health Leadership Awards Presented in New York at Global Inclusive Health Summit

Back row (l to r) Dr. Timothy Shriver, Ann Costello, Gilmour Borg, Dr. Alicia Bazzano. Front row (l to r) 2022 Global Golisano Health Award Honorees: Katarina Tesarova, Dr. Serhiy Komisarenko, Rebecca Morley, Dr. Jaime Jamett Rojas, Yacine Djibo, and Hideyuki Muraki. Read more about the honorees below.

Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation celebrated a decade of global health accomplishments and trailblazers today at the Global Inclusive Health Leadership Summit and 2022 Global Golisano Health Leadership Awards presentation.

The Summit presented a high-level discussion on how to give people with intellectual disabilities a fighting chance at health equity that included Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, International Federation of Red Cross President Francesco Rocca, Golisano Foundaation Executive Director Ann Costello, Special Olympics Chief Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne, Special Olympics Chair Dr. Timothy Shriver. Special Olympics Global Health Messenger Nyasha Derera also led a key conversation, The Doctor is Inclusive, with Dr. Murthy. The event was held at The New York Public Library, at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

Gilmour Borg, Gilmour Borg22-year-old Special Olympics Health Messenger from Malta, saw his life change after he joined Special Olympics. “I had very dark stages in my life. I was refused, I was laughed at, I was bullied most of the time and I was neglected by friends. After joining Special Olympics Malta, I was listened to, I was respected, I was understood, I was encouraged, I was supported, I was loved, I found friends, and most important I found a family.” Gilmour now educates, mentors, and guides other athletes on the importance and benefits of living a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities around the world have been marginalized for generations – provided poor access to social, educational, and medical services. Their life expectancy, heart disease rates, and severe dental decay are far worse than that of the general population. Moreover, a 2022 Special Olympics study found that people with intellectual disabilities have gotten COVID-19 four times the general population’s rate.

Ten years ago this month, Tom Golisano, founder of Paychex, gave $12 million to Special Olympics at the Clinton Global Initiative to advance inclusive health around the world. His giving to Special Olympics Health has since grown to $67 million. With this funding and thousands of new partnerships forged around the world, Special Olympics has trained health professionals and students to treat people with intellectual disabilities, engaged athletes in fitness programming, and conducted free health screenings of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, resulting in a 50% reduction in urgent referrals.

As the father of a son with an intellectual disability Golisano said, “Successful and sustainable community partnerships, coupled with the power of human compassion, can usher in a world of health equity for those with intellectual disabilities. We have proven that and made great progress over the last ten years. There remains an urgent need for more partners from the government, the private sector, and philanthropy to step in and join us to help us realize our global vision.”

Special Olympics Chief Health Officer, Dr. Alicia Bazzano said, “Beyond sport, Special Olympics champions the health of people with intellectual disabilities around the world through preventive care, health screenings, training health professionals and health systems strengthening in over 100 countries, but the reality is, we need much greater support from all sectors of society, public and private if we are to realize our ambitions for a truly inclusive world for people with intellectual disabilities. We need more people like Tom Golisano who recognize the importance of this work. We thank him and, with his support, we honor those who are champions, exemplifying the ambition, the dedication, and the resilience required to reform the system and foster equity for people with intellectual disabilities.”

2022 Golisano Health Leadership Awards & Recipients

The Golisano Health Leadership Awards were established in 2016. Since then hundreds of health champions—leaders and organizations—have been recognized at the regional and global levels for making significant contributions to equal access to health, fitness, or wellness for people with intellectual disabilities. The seven Global Award honorees being recognized this year were chosen from 2021 regional awardees. This is the first time the awards were presented in the United States. The previous Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards were held in Austria in 2017 and Abu Dhabi in 2019. The awards also promote awareness of the progress and extraordinary efforts toward fulfilling the goals, values, and mission of Special Olympics Health work. This is the highest Special Olympics honor for health partners.

Dr. Adib JaberDr. Adib Jaber (Beirut, Lebanon) Dr. Jaber, an ophthalmologist, and volunteer, has led the recruitment and training of local medical professionals that now provide free treatment, including surgery, for individuals with intellectual disabilities across Lebanon and the Middle East/North Africa, increasing the capacity of health systems across the Region. Watch Video

Hideyuki MurakiGeneral Incorporated Association of Japan Lions (Tokyo, Japan) Lions Clubs of Japan have demonstrated the true value of service by committing to sustain inclusive health initiatives in Japan. They have engaged in vision screenings, provision of prescriptive eyewear, referral to care that addresses unmet health needs, and preventive care including health education to families of people with intellectual disabilities. Watch Video

Rebecca MorleyRebecca Morley (Montana, USA) In her career at the Missoula City-County Health Department, Rebecca worked tirelessly to champion inclusive health for 15 years, to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities were included in mainstream public health programs. She has recruited and trained hundreds of healthcare professionals from colleges, hospitals, and health NGOs to ensure the next generation of providers can deliver quality healthcare to people with intellectual disabilities. Rebecca ensured that individuals with intellectual disabilities were included in the annual BMI surveillance at local public schools for the first time. This data was then used to advocate for the elimination of using food such as sweet treats as a reward in all classrooms, which became a policy for Missoula County Public Schools and remains in place today.  Watch Video

Katarina TesarovaSands China Ltd. (Macau) Nearly a decade ago, resort developer and operator, Sands China Ltd. launched a fund to support individuals with intellectual disabilities in accessing private medical care. To date, 325 individuals with intellectual disabilities have received treatment in dental, physical therapy, podiatry, audiology, Chinese traditional medicine, and acupuncture from 50 practitioners across five designated medical clinics. In addition, hundreds of Sands China employees regularly engage with Special Olympics athletes in health and fitness activities, including those to improve mental health, during and post-pandemic. Watch Video

Jaime Jamett RojasSchool of Odontology of the Universidad de Valparaiso (Valparaiso, Chile) For years, the dental faculty at the Universidad de Valparaiso has been training students on conducting dental evaluations and oral health education for people with intellectual disabilities. They conduct community outreach clinics for people with intellectual disabilities and address urgent referrals at the university clinic, or by their mobile unit. Over the past 2 years, more than 150 athletes with intellectual disabilities have been screened and treated for caries, root canals, and the installation of implants and dental prostheses. Watch video

Dr. Serhiy KomisarenkoDr. Serhiy Komisarenko (Vinnytsia, Ukraine) Dr. Komisarenko saw a stark need for Ukrainian athletes with intellectual disabilities to receive free health screenings, which led him to launch Healthy Athletes screenings in Ukraine and advocate for access to quality follow-up care. He worked with the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences to secure the country’s leading doctors and hospitals to provide ongoing screenings and follow-up care to individuals with intellectual disabilities throughout the country. Watch Video

Yacine DjiboSpeak Up Africa (Dakar, Senegal) Focused on public health and sustainable development, leading West African advocacy organization, Speak Up Africa partnered with Special Olympics Senegal to ensure that individuals with intellectual disabilities are included in all public health initiatives and campaigns to prevent malaria, promote vaccination, prevent COVID-19 and improve menstrual hygiene. They used their extensive network of sports stars and celebrities to amplify the message of health inclusion. Watch video

About Special Olympics

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and our blog on Medium. Learn more at

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