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Thomas Golisano said Sunday he plans to provide $12 million over four years to expand Special Olympics’ health-related services to people with intellectual disabilities.
It is the largest single gift Special Olympics has received from an individual and it is the first gift made by the Paychex Inc. founder and chairman that will have international impact.
Former President Bill Clinton announced Golisano’s donation on Sunday at the opening of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City. The funding will allow for the launch of a new Healthy Communities initiative.
Healthy Communities will be launched in seven countries: Mexico, Peru, Romania, Malawi, South Africa, Malaysia and Thailand; and six U.S. states: Arizona, Florida, Kansas, New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York, officials said. It will build upon and broaden the scope of the current Healthy Athletes program, which has provided free health screenings and products to athletes for 15 years.
The goal of the new initiative 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.
“This unprecedented gift by Tom Golisano is going to impact lives worldwide, and we are honored to have the opportunity to share this incredible news at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting,” said Special Olympics chairman and CEO Timothy Shriver in a statement.
“This gift comes with my deep admiration for the work of Special Olympics over the 10-plus years since Healthy Athletes was founded,” Golisano said. “To have harnessed the power of its global sports organization to deliver critical front-line health care to over 1 million athletes is nothing short of remarkable.
“We must do even more to eliminate the health disparities that people with intellectual disabilities face. I am dismayed that people with intellectual disabilities and their health needs and status remain largely invisible to practitioners, systems, governments and larger global health community. We must leverage Special Olympics network, brand and organizational assets to the fullest extent possible as well as seek other partners and organizations to bring sustainable, systemic change.”
Golisano is the founding sponsor and major underwriter for eight consecutive years of the CGI Annual Meeting. His first gift to Special Olympics International was in 2010, to conduct Healthy Athletes trainings of doctors and other health care providers from across the United States.