Lions Clubs International is increasing funding, member activation and programming to benefit those with intellectual disabilities worldwide.
Members of Lions Clubs International (LCI) and Special Olympics were present to celebrate the expanded partnership. Pictured from left to right: Joe Preston, 2nd International Vice President, LCI; Barry Palmer, 1st International Vice President, LCI; Wayne Madden International President; Yao Ming, Special Olympics Board Director; Ben Haack, Special Olympics Australia athlete; Dr. Tam Wing-kun, Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation, and Timothy P. Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman and CEO. Photo by Darren Miller
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For Immediate Release
HAMBURG, Germany, 8 July 2013
- Lions Clubs International
Foundation is pledging $7.8 million to Special Olympics, expanding
worldwide efforts to support the inclusion and well-being of people
with intellectual disabilities.
Building on the organizations' 14-year history of collaboration,
this pledge is part of a new multi-year partnership plan that will
strengthen ties between Special Olympics and Lions Clubs
International at the country and the community level. The
partnership is providing health services, engaging youth and
encouraging family support to benefit the global population of
individuals with intellectual disabilities.
The announcement was made on stage during the
96th annual Lions Clubs International convention in
Hamburg, Germany, by Special Olympics Board Member Yao Ming,
Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics
Australia athlete Ben Haack, Special Olympics-Lions Clubs
International Opening Eyes Founder Dr. Paul Berman and Lion Clubs
International Foundation (LCIF) Chairperson Tam Wing-kun.
"Just five months ago at the Special Olympics World Winter
Games in Korea, Special Olympics convened world leaders for a
Global Development Summit focused on ending the cycle of poverty
and exclusion that people with intellectual disabilities face
around the world. Lions Clubs did more than participate in
that gathering -- they committed to action," shared Yao Ming. "With
this remarkable commitment, they're putting the funding and
strength of their global grassroots organization in direct service
for one of the world's most marginalized populations. There's
no greater service organization than Lions, and the athletes,
families, volunteers and fans of Special Olympics worldwide are
proud to stand with their members in service to others."
Lions Clubs International has been supporting Special Olympics
with a focus on health through the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs
International Opening Eyes vision screening program. Now, this
five-year renewal and increased support will create leadership
opportunities for Special Olympics athletes, increase the health
work of Special Olympics, conduct outreach to families for
additional support and allow for both organizations to reach more
young people through inclusive sports and advocacy programs in an
effort to achieve full acceptance and inclusion of people with
intellectual disabilities in their communities.
"Lions Clubs International is honored to serve as a global
partner of Special Olympics," said Chairperson Tam. "For many
years, we have worked side by side in the field of vision care for
those with intellectual disabilities, and we are so excited to
expand the scope of our collaboration to meet additional needs in
our communities. This expanded global partnership provides an
opportunity for our Lions and Leo members to engage in new service
opportunities like hearing health, family support, inclusive
sports, membership development, and much more."
As part of the partnership announcement, Lions Clubs
International Foundation Chairperson Dr. Tam Wing-kun made Special
Olympics Global Ambassador Yao Ming an honorary Lions Clubs member
for his dedication to serving children throughout China.
Since 2001, Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International have
screened more than 325,000 Special Olympics athletes, and with the
help of global suppliers Essilor International and Safilo Group,
have provided more than 100,000 athletes with high quality
prescription eyeglasses. The expanded partnership will utilize the
proven collaborative model exhibited through Opening Eyes, with the
focus on creating additional health and social impacts to empower
individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families, and
In addition to empowering people with intellectual disabilities
to achieve their best both on and off the playing field, the
partnership is designed to highlight the global and community
leadership offered by Lions Clubs International, the largest
service organization in the world, and a global leader in
"Thank you Lions Clubs for your continued support, but more
importantly for your belief in people like me," said Ben Haack,
Special Olympics Australia athlete. "Your support will allow us to
reach more young people and empower our athletes to be leaders. We
are so excited to work closely with Lions Clubs throughout the
world to bring your mission, 'We Serve', to every corner of the
Special Olympics Movement. These actions will help build
understanding and break down barriers and bullying and will create
communities of acceptance everywhere."
In 2001, Lions Clubs International Foundation awarded Special
Olympics the first grant in a multi-year, multi-million dollar
commitment in the expansion of the Opening Eyes vision screening
program. Since then, the Foundation has provided over $15
million to provide vision and health-related services for a
population long denied access to quality health and social
The commitment will continue to be more than just financial.
Lions Clubs International has supported the Opening Eyes program
with more than 20,000 volunteers in more than 80 countries, as well
as helping to build capacity for increased disability programming
in communities throughout the world.
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes
lives through the power of sports by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual
disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide.
Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics
movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4.2
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 70,000 competitions
throughout the year.
Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of
Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in
the world with 1.35 million members in 208 geographic areas and
countries. Through LCIF, Lions have helped to save or restore the
vision of more than 30 million people worldwide. Learn more online