The Golisano Foundation and Special Olympics honored seven healthcare organizations and professionals this weekend. The Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards were created to recognize the progress being made around the world to increase access to essential health care for people with intellectual disabilities. It is Special Olympics’ highest honor for health partners.
The first-ever awards were presented Sunday in Austria. They were given to:
-Korea International Cooperation Agency for its work with Special Olympics Uganda in creating solutions where there is no access to healthcare.
-Rajanukul, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand in Bangkok for launching a national health assessment program for children with intellectual disabilities.
-Tongren Eye Hospital, Capital Medical University in Beijing, China for coordinating medical professionals throughout China and ensure sustainable eye health and treatment access are available to Special Olympics athletes.
-Lions Club International MD 112 in Brussels, Belgium for leadership in creating healthcare solutions for Special Olympics athletes and their investment in making Special Olympics Belgium a ‘healthy community.’
-Universidad Cientifica del Sur – Escuela de Estomatologia in Lima, Peru for education hundreds of dental students on how to care for people with intellectual disabilities and for opening their doors to Special Olympics Peru athletes to provide inclusive dental treatment.
-Dr. Mohamed Askar of Cairo, Egypt for his leadership in Special Olympics work in Egypt and opening the doors of his orthopedic practice to provide free services for people with intellectual disabilities.
-Dr. Stephen Sulkes, Co-Director of the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester Medical Center, for his work to champion ‘healthy communities’ and, among other things, securing grants to improve the fitness of Special Olympics New York athletes. Sulkes founded the Rochester student chapter of the Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and encourages students to get involved with Special Olympics including volunteering and coaching at events. (video of Dr. Sulkes is at the end of this story)
In addition to the 2017 awards, two Pioneer Awards for lifetime achievement were presented to Dr. Steven Perlman, a dentist in Boston, and Dr. Paul Berman, (posthumously), an optometrist of Hillsdale, NJ, for founding Special Olympics Healthy Athletes 20 years ago.
"The work we are seeing on the front lines of healthcare in villages and cities throughout the world is inspiring," said Ann Costello, Executive Director of the Golisano Foundation. "We applaud these individuals and organizations for their game-changing work to advance inclusive health in their communities. They see the possibilities. They are focused on outcomes. We hope the Golisano Global Health Leadership Award serves as a catalyst and inspiration for more individuals and organizations to make much-needed changes in healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities."
"These recipients have demonstrated their passion for Special Olympics athletes and their quest for achieving their personal bests on and off the field of competition." said Mary Davis, Special Olympics CEO. "Each has played a role in breaking down barriers and changing perceptions."
Costello announced that the next Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards will be presented in Abu Dhabi a the Special Olympics World Games in 2019.
This story was produced by WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, focusing on disabilities and inclusion.
This is a video of Dr. Sulkes and his work produced by Special Olympics: