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Starkey and Special Olympics International Create Global Partnership to Increase Hearing Health for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

Tani Austin, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Starkey, greets a Special Olympics athlete
Tani Austin, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Starkey (left), greets a Special Olympics athlete in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA, 1 March 2022 – Starkey and Special Olympics, the international non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through sport, health and education programming, signed a global partnership agreement today that increases access to hearing health services worldwide for individuals with intellectual disabilities. A gift from Starkey Cares, Starkey’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, will make it possible to provide life-changing health services and hearing instruments to Special Olympics athletes around the world and help train more healthcare professionals to make healthy hearing more inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities.

Starkey will serve as the exclusive global supplier of hearing instruments for the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® Healthy Hearing program and will provide key support and hearing instruments at some of Special Olympics’ signature events, such as the 2022 Special Olympics USA National Games in Orlando (USA), and the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin (Germany).

“At Starkey, we believe hearing connects us to our humanity. We created Starkey Cares, our Corporate Social Responsibility program, to show those who need access to hearing health that we will take care of them. This partnership will allow us to make a difference in even more people’s lives around the world, so these athletes can get back to doing what they love!” said Tani Austin, Chief Philanthropy Officer for Starkey.

Through this global partnership launch, Starkey and Special Olympics celebrate a shared commitment to creating a world where people with intellectual disabilities have every opportunity to be healthy. “Special Olympics has done tremendous work empowering their athletes,” said Brandon Sawalich, President and CEO of Starkey. “Starkey shares that commitment to helping others feel included, accepted and helping them reconnect to the world around them. Starkey Cares is our corporate promise to continue this work, and we could not ask for a better partner than Special Olympics.”

For more than six decades, Starkey has been changing lives through hearing care, providing more than a million hearing aids to people in need. As part of both the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles (USA) and the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Starkey and Special Olympics delivered over 2,700 hearing screenings to athletes and nearly 500 personally fitted hearing instruments.

Special Olympics Healthy Hearing is one of eight disciplines within the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® program. The Healthy Athletes provides health services and information to millions of people in need in more than 130 countries. Healthy Hearing has provided over 30,000 free hearing screenings in more than 80 countries and has distributed more than 2,000 hearing aids worldwide.

“We are grateful for Starkey’s global commitment to supporting the health needs of people with intellectual differences,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Board, Special Olympics International. “Nearly a quarter of our athletes failed a pure tone hearing test which puts them at risk for hearing loss. We know that around the world many people with intellectual disabilities lack access to routine care including hearing screenings. And most significantly, many of our athletes who are screened have problems getting the follow up care they so urgently require, due to a lack of education about their hearing loss and critically needed family and community support. These statistics require urgent action. With Starkey Cares by our side, we are able to close the referral loop and give our athletes greater access to hearing health, and a greater opportunity to contribute to their communities. That’s inclusive health in action.”

About Starkey

Starkey is a privately held, global hearing technology company headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Owned by Bill Austin since 1967, Starkey is known for its innovative design, development, and distribution of comprehensive digital hearing systems. Led today by President and CEO Brandon Sawalich, Starkey has more than 5,000 employees, operates 29 facilities and does business in more than 100 markets worldwide. Learn more at starkey.com.

About Special Olympics International

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Special Olympics Unified Sports® partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 Games and competitions every year.

Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and our blog on Medium. Learn more at www.SpecialOlympics.org.

Media Contact
Special Olympics
+1 202 738-8511