Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Special Olympics Receives $12 million to Expand Health Services

Special Olympics Pennsylvania - York County athlete Loretta Claiborne pictured with Former President William J. Clinton and Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics Tim Shriver at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative.

On September 23, 2012, Former President William J. Clinton announced that businessman and philanthropist Tom Golisano will provide $12 million to expand Special Olympics’ health-related services to people with intellectual disabilities - one of the largest and most medically underserved disability groups in the world – which will allow for the launch of a new Healthy Communities initiative. The commitment was made at the opening of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting involving four Special Olympics athletes including PA athlete Loretta Claiborne.

This is the largest single gift Special Olympics has ever received from an individual and it is the first gift made by Golisano that will have international impact. The gift will be given over four years.
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.

Healthy Communities’ goal is to achieve improved health outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all are receiving health services and are able to reach their full potential. It will expand services to more athletes, increase partnerships with local organizations, expand the use of technology, and promote awareness of the health difficulties facing people with intellectual disabilities.  

Healthier Communities are Stronger Communities

by Loretta Claiborne

I remember when I was asked first asked about Healthy Athletes, many years ago. I had some reservations. I was a naysayer. Dr. Ron Vederman was trying to start it, and he said to me, "What do you think about Healthy Athletes?" I said, "I think we should stick to sports. Why do we want to get into the private lives of people's health?" Then I thought, "Dr. Vederman, you know what? I understand." If your feet don't feel well, you can't run well. But also you can't participate in the community with a job. If your teeth hurt, you don't eat well, and if you don't eat well, you can't take care of your body. If you can't see well, you can't bowl well. In the community, if you don't see well, you can't see what's going on. I don't read well, so I use my eyes and ears to learn and think about what's happening. Healthy Athletes is one of the best programs to come around for people with intellectual disabilities. With Healthy Communities, I see better lives and people living longer. And when you have a healthier community, you have a stronger community. Healthy Communities will really open the eyes of the community about people with intellectual disabilities.

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