Our Work

2020 Golisano Health Leadership Award Honorees

Two women receiving an award from another woman.

The Golisano Health Leadership Award honors health champions and their extraordinary efforts toward fulfilling the goals, values, and mission of the Special Olympics global health program. These 41 honorees were recognized in 2020 at the country or U.S. state level.

Dr. Hisao Takahashi: Dr. Takahashi has provided Special Olympics Nippon athletes with custom made mouth guards for sport through a partnership with Special Smiles. Dr. Takahashi also treats patients with hearing differences by using sign language.

Daman Health Insurance: Daman Health Insurance has played a role in providing various types of support to the Special Olympics United Arab Emirates community, and providing health insurance to cover athletes participating in the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. The company is also behind several awareness initiatives for people with intellectual disabilities.

National Ambulance: National Ambulance has showed ongoing commitment to supporting and promoting the health and safety of the Special Olympics United Arab Emirates, People of Determination, and contributed to building healthy communities.

LifePoint Health: LifePoint Health has not wavered in its commitment to provide Special Olympics Tennessee athletes with opportunities to maintain their health and wellness. LifePoint Health has been involved with all facets of Special Olympics' efforts to quickly and adeptly address care gaps for athletes across the state.

Anytime Fitness (Fast Fitness Japan): There are nearly 500 Anytime Fitness gyms open in Japan. For nearly three years, Anytime Fitness of Japan has been a proud sponsor of Special Olympics Nippon. Supporting Special Olympics athletes has been a source of great joy for Anytime Fitness gyms and their members.

Dr. Joyce Sexton: Dr. Sexton is an audiologist with Northern Hearing Services from Anchorage, Alaska.

Melanie S. Thwaites, DDS, Howard University College of Dentistry, Department of Pediatric Dentistry: Dr. Thwaites is a dentist and dental educator at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Howard University College of Dentistry: Howard University College of Dentistry residents participate in numerous community events held by Special Olympics District of Columbia. Participation in organized dentistry and service is emphasized in their local and global communities.

Krave Gym: Krave Gym hosts Special Olympics athletes for training sessions, involving their own employees to help lead those sessions.

Kentucky Inclusive Health Collaborative: The Kentucky Inclusive Health Collaborative is the health and wellness program at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute. Their mission is to ignite positive change to address the significant health disparities for individuals with disabilities across the lifespan. They have been a supporter of Special Olympics Kentucky since 2016 and for the last year have partnered with Special Olympics Kentucky to provide Wellness Wednesdays virtually throughout the pandemic.

Delta Dental: Delta Dental has been a sponsor of Special Olympics Kentucky since 2011 by providing funding as well as oral health care products and educational materials. They also have supplied opportunities for employee engagement and volunteerism at Special Olympics Kentucky events.

Jennifer Hew, CD: Jennifer Hew, a Clinical Director from Special Olympics Louisiana, leads the year-round Special Olympics program called Special Smiles that conducts screenings at competitions.

Kellie Brame, CD: Kellie Brame is a registered nurse and the Clinical Director of Health Promotion for Special Olympics Louisiana.

Patty Jo Lane, CD: Patty Jo Lane is a dedicated volunteer of Special Olympics Montana, and the Clinical Director of FUNfitness. Patty Jo has led the medical team for Special Olympics Montana State Summer Games multiple years in a row, and developed risk assessments for all 7 sports offered during the games.

AL Moasat: Dr. Nazih el Bizri Health Center: AL Moasat has been honored for being “the best health service center in Lebanon,” and in appreciation of their support and the health services they have provided to athletes for the past two years.

Metro Community Health Centers: Metro Community Health Centers has a number of employees who volunteer their efforts for Special Olympics New York. Notably, their Chief Medical Officer Dr. Siasoco is a Clinical Director for Special Olympics New York.

Nazareth College: Throughout their commitment to Special Olympics New York, most notably, Nazareth College opened the Golisano Training Center in 2018. Since then, the Center has been an amazing location for the collaboration of inclusion, fitness, and wellness for athletes of all abilities.

Albany Medical College: Albany Medical College and Special Olympics New York released a series of virtual training videos for Special Olympics athletes and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. These videos offer athletes the ability to stay fit, healthy, and well from their homes.

Great Miami Valley YMCA: Special Olympics Ohio teamed up with the Great Miami Valley YMCA to develop inclusive health and fitness videos featuring Athlete Leaders from Butler County. These videos help everyone participating in virtual fitness challenges and help athletes practice proper form.

University of Prince Edward Island - Department of Applied Human Sciences: University of Prince Edward Island Department of Applied Human Sciences have been collaborative and forward thinking partners of the movement. They successfully obtained a Special Olympics Canada grant to further understand the context of islanders with intellectual disabilities and are gathering information on a virtual platform that can provide support for personalized wellness goals.

Synergy Fitness and Nutrition: They have been instrumental in keeping fitness and performance training opportunities available to Prince Edward Island athletes in the lead up to provincial and national games. They have also been an inclusive environment for all community athletes who want to become stronger and healthier, with good camaraderie and support. During the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, they have stepped up with live virtual workout sessions via Facebook.

Dr. Michael Zolman, CD and Dr. Jennie Zolman, CD: Both Dr. Michael Zolman and Dr. Jennie Zolman are Clinical Directors who have been involved in Opening Eyes for nearly a decade.

Vanderbilt University Bill Wilkerson Center - Dept of Hearing and Speech Sciences: Vanderbilt University, Dept. of Hearing and Speech Sciences staff organize biannual Healthy Hearing screening events, where athletes receive screenings from Vanderbilt audiologists and audiology students.

Stephanie Clayton, CD: Stephanie is the Clinical Director for Strong Minds. Stephanie focuses her work with athletes on coping skills. She is a huge proponent of Special Olympics Texas, where her own son, Ryan, competes.

Carla Burr: Sergeant Burr works in the Amarillo Police Department and plays an integral fundraising role in the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Dr. Fatma Guenoune Niang, CD: Dr. Guenoune is the Clinical Director for MedFest.

Dr. Dossolo Sanogo, CD: Since 2016, Dr. Sanogo has been fully engaged in all Healthy Athletes screenings, especially MedFest screenings. He participates, coordinates, and supervises all MedFest screenings as the Clinical Director.

ESSILOR Sénégal: ESSILOR is a key Opening Eyes partner, providing free frames and lenses for athletes.

Sulfo Rwanda Industries: Sulfo Rwanda Industries has donated health equipment to the Program since 2017. In 2020, they donated water drums and boxes of soap to be distributed to special centers to benefit the athletes in surrounding schools.

Alan McCague, CD: Alan McCague is a Clinical Director for Special Olympics Fit Feet. Alan played a key role in the 2003 World Summer Games in Ireland, and he continues to lead the Fit Feet program since then. Alan is also the Fit Feet Regional Clinical Advisor for the Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Region and delivers training to new Fit Feet Clinical Directors.

Tai Chi Your Way: Tai Chi Your Way provides athletes with opportunities to learn skills and tools to manage and understand their emotions and help reduce stress through the art of Tai Chi, meditation and mindfulness.

Cork City Libraries: The partnership between Special Olympics Ireland and Cork City Libraries saw the development of sensory books based on Healthy Ireland’s three pillars; Eat Well, Be Well, Think Well, which was supported by the Special Olympics Health Promotion Program.

Dr. Omar Schembri: Dr. Schembri is a podiatrist active in Healthy Athletes screenings.

Sharon Gretch Camilleri: Dr. Camilleri is a physiotherapist in Malta who has helped run FUNFitness Healthy Athletes screenings for several years.

Local Council of Yanuh-Jat, Mr. Mudi Saad: Yanuh-Jat is a Israeli village within a Druze community, an ethnic minority in the country. Special Olympics Israel has partnered with the local leadership there to run the first Special Olympics fitness club within this community.

Israeli School Sports Federation: Ziv Solomon, CEO, Guy Dagan, National Sports Supervisor, Ministry of Education: This partnership helped ensure Special Olympics Israel could offer virtual sporting events for over 400 new athletes. Prior to these events, inclusive health trainings were offered to 40 teachers; they also trained 33 physiotherapists in Young Athletes.

Mid-Sweden University: Mid-Sweden University is a research partner on the health status and needs of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in Sweden, including follow-up research using Special Olympics Healthy Athletes data. They have also begun offering a university course for coaches on sports for people with disabilities and are planning more integration of health needs of people with ID.

Dallah Hospital: Dallah Hospital hosts space for Special Olympics Lebanon health education events, as well as providing Healthy Athletes space and clinicians.

Dr. Hadi El Syed: Dr. El Syed has offered Opening Eyes screenings to athletes. He has also made follow up care more accessible for athletes from his connection with the Ophthalmological Hospital of Bouamatou Foundation in Nouakchott.

Dr. Abdallahi Biram: Dr. Biram has been involved with Healthy Communities for over two years, and has assisted Special Olympics Mauritania in follow-up care for athletes. He has helped multiple athletes over the years care for their medical problems that stem from epilepsy.

Dr. Selma Daoudi, CD: Dr. Selma Daoudi is an ophthalmologist and Special Olympics Morocco's Opening Eyes Clinical Director.