Help Up to 50,000 Special Olympics Athletes Realize Their Potential

September 13, 2012

VSP Vision Care (VSP), the nation’s leading not-for-profit vision care company, is announcing the “Send a High Five” campaign, a program that will provide comprehensive vision exams critical follow-up eyecare and related services for up to 50,000 Special Olympics athletes across the United States.

Washington DC - According to a recent study, the majority of people, if forced to choose, would give up just about anything to preserve their vision. However, the lack of access and barriers to quality eyecare for people with ID means vision correction needs often go undetected and unmet, Research has shown that not only do people with ID have a heightened risk for health and vision problems, but that medical professionals often lack the necessary training to work with them.  The “Send a High Five” campaign was developed to help raise awareness about both the importance of healthy vision as well as the barriers to care people with ID face. 

“Special Olympics is thrilled to be collaborating with VSP on the ‘Send a High Five’ campaign”, said Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Dr. Timothy Shriver.  “Access to quality health care is a critical issue facing our athletes worldwide, including in the United States.  With VSP’s support, we can now connect our Opening Eyes program to a national network of community-based providers, and support increased access to care for people with intellectual disabilities. Send a High Five today.”

For every “High Five” sent, VSP will donate a gift certificate to a Special Olympics athlete for a comprehensive eye exam, and if needed, glasses as well as additional services, such as low vision, vision therapy, and a medical allowance at no cost to the athlete. VSP’s donated services will further strengthen the Special Olympics Opening Eyes program by increasing access to necessary vision care, and ensuring that the program will be able to provide critical follow up services where they are needed most. 

“At VSP, we believe everyone deserves to see their best and when we learned that more than 35 percent of Special Olympics athletes have not received an eye exam in more than three years, we saw an opportunity to help make a difference,” said Kate Renwick-Espinosa, chief marketing officer of VSP Global.  “With this campaign, sending a high five not only serves as a sign of support and awareness, but actually makes a meaningful impact on the health and lives of these incredible athletes.”
To date, VSP charity programs including VSP Mobile Eyes® and Sight for Students®, and with partners like Special Olympics, VSP has invested more than $150 million in free eyecare and glasses to more than 775,000 children and adults. These services have resulted in the early detection of nearly 10,000 chronic health and eye diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma and cataracts in people across the country.

For more information about the VSP “Send a High Five” campaign and to participate, visit www.SeeMuchMore.com.  The site also includes helpful information about the benefits of healthy vision and an interactive game to teach players more about the importance of annual eye exams and vision insurance.

About VSP Global
VSP Global® includes VSP Vision Care, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the United States with 57 million members; Marchon® Eyewear Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers, designers and distributors of quality fashion and technologically-advanced eyewear and sunwear; Eyefinity® which offers innovative solutions and the premier management software and technology to improve overall practice management and patient experience; VSP Optics Group, industry leaders in new technologies, production processes, service and logistics. Learn more at www.facebook.com/vspvisioncare.

About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports everyday around the world. Through work in sports, health education and community building, Special Olympics is addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly four million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics is able to deliver 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 53,000 competitions throughout the year. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.  Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

 Contact:

Karl Hejlik

Sr. Manager, Health/Research Communications

(202) 824-0308               

khejlik@specialolympics.org

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