Nashville, Tenn. – December 15, 2020 – Special Olympics Tennessee is honored to announce the selection of LifePoint Health, Bill Wilkerson Center, and Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians as Tennessee’s 2020-2021 Golisano Health Leadership Award honorees.
The Golisano Health Leadership Award was established in 2016, in partnership with Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation, and is given to an individual or organization that is dedicated to improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities and advancing the health work of Special Olympics. Tennessee’s Golisano Health Leadership Award recipients have responded to the health needs of Tennesseans with intellectual disabilities in the following ways:
1. LifePoint Health has not wavered in its constant commitment to provide Tennessee athletes with opportunities to maintain their health and wellness. Although LifePoint has only recently entered a partnership with Special Olympics Tennessee, it has been involved with all facets of the Special Olympics organization’s efforts to quickly and adeptly address care gaps for athletes across the state.
2. Vanderbilt’s Bill Wilkerson Center has been Special Olympics Tennessee’s steadfast Healthy Hearing screening partner. The Center has worked closely with Special Olympics Tennessee to continuously improve the quality of screenings and to best strategize ways to promote athlete health and wellbeing beyond competition.
3. The Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians has served as Special Olympics Tennessee’s foundational Healthy Athletes® contributor and has successfully coordinated Opening Eyes screenings every year since 1997. Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians is Special Olympics Tennessee’s oldest health partner and the health program would not have been able to grow without the steadfast support from this astounding organization.
People with intellectual disabilities are part of one of the largest and most medically underserved disability groups in the world. Millions with intellectual disabilities lack access to quality health care and experience dramatically higher rates of preventable disease, chronic pain and suffering, and premature death in every country around the world.
Special Olympics’ vision of its health program, made possible by the Golisano Foundation, is to create a world where people with intellectual disabilities have the same opportunities and access to quality health care as people without intellectual disabilities. For the past 20 years, Special Olympics has been working to identify and address the unmet health needs of people with intellectual disabilities and has revealed a myriad of complex barriers to health faced by this population. Barriers to this vision include lack of access to quality health care, education and resources.
To address the barriers to accessing health services, resources and education, Special Olympics is identifying health needs and providing health education to Special Olympics athletes, focusing on follow-up care, engaging athletes and other people with intellectual disabilities in more ongoing health, wellness and fitness opportunities within their communities, and is investing in training health professionals and organizations to deliver these activities throughout the world and improve the health of people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Tennessee will be hosting its first annual Health Summit in February 2021 to celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of Golisano Health Leadership and discuss paths forward to inclusive health. Summit information and registration will be available January 2021.
About Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation
Tom Golisano — entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader — is the founder and chairman of the board of Paychex, Inc., a leading national provider of payroll, human resource, and benefit outsourcing solutions with more than 14,000 employees and 100 office locations nationwide serving more than a half-million small and medium-sized businesses. Tom’s vision, perseverance, and action have left an indelible mark on a broad spectrum of issues that touch our lives – in business, healthcare, education, voter policies, politics, and tax reform. His personal philanthropic contributions to hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations exceed $300 million. A fierce advocate for dignity and inclusion, Tom Golisano applied his pioneering spirit to establish the Golisano Foundation to help make the world a better place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1985, the Golisano Foundation is now one of the largest private foundations in the United States devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With $45 million in gross assets, it awards more than $2 million in grants annually “Imagining the Possibilities,” advocating for families, fighting for their dignity, and giving people with IDD the opportunity to thrive in their communities.
About Special Olympics Tennessee
Special Olympics Tennessee serves more than 18,000 athletes and hosts more than 250 events in 17 sports annually. Special Olympics Tennessee provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.