Golisano Health Leadership Awards

The Golisano Health Leadership Awards were launched in September 2016 to recognize individuals and organizations that further the cause of Special Olympics and improve access to health care, fitness and wellness programs for people with intellectual disabilities. The awards are Special Olympics’ highest honor for health partners. Honorees are individuals and organizations that are shining examples of how health programs can be successfully implemented in communities.

The Awards recognize their extensive work and progress for:

  • increasing access to essential health care
  • improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities and
  • advancing the year-round health work of Special Olympics.

The Awards are named for philanthropist and Paychex founder, Tom Golisano, who has donated more than $67 million to Special Olympics to launch Healthy Communities, expand the reach of Healthy Athletes, and increase access to health care around world for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics is the largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities.

Award Categories

  • Regional Awards - honorees are selected by local Special Olympics Programs that are current or past 3-year Healthy Communities grantees. Honorees must be contributing to Healthy Communities, a model Special Olympics Health program made possible by the Golisano Foundation. The program addresses the severe health disparities faced by people with intellectual disabilities through immediate and long-term solutions. A Healthy Community is a location officially by recognized by Special Olympics for efforts in creating year-round access to quality health care. Through partnerships, fitness and wellness programs, as well as robust Healthy Athletes programming, dozens of Special Olympics locations throughout the world are paving the way for inclusive health. Special Olympics has set a goal of having 100 locations recognized as Healthy Communities by 2020.
  • Global Awards - Up to seven global honorees are chosen from regional honorees (One per Special Olympics region - Africa, Asia Pacific, East Asia, Europe Eurasia, Latin America, Middle East North Africa, North America). Honorees are selected by Special Olympics staff, Athlete Leaders, Golisano Foundation leadership, and Global Clinical Advisors. The awards are presented at the Special Olympics World Games.

2023 Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards

 The fourth Global Golisano Health Leadership Awards were presented June 19, 2023 at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany. The awards showcase the impactful work of Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation to surmount the healthcare barriers faced by people with intellectual disabilities worldwide and push for more collaboration with public and private partners—critical to meeting this challenges. Read more See Videos

2022 Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards

The 2022 Global Golisano Health Leadership Awards were presented September 19, 2022 in New York City. They recognize health champions—leaders and organizations—that are making a significant contribution to secure equal access to health, fitness or wellness for people with intellectual disabilities. The award also promotes awareness of the progress and extraordinary efforts toward fulfilling the goals, values, and mission of Special Olympics Health work. This is the highest Special Olympics honor for health partners.

Learn more about the recipients.

2021 Regional Golisano Health Leadership Awards

The Golisano Global 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 39 honorees were recognized in 2021 at the country or U.S. state level.

Read more about them here.

  • Dr. Vincent Siasoco, CD
  • Dr. Nely Garcia
  • Children’s Hospital New Orleans (John Nickens, CEO)
  • Delta Dental (Marybeth Goodwin, Program Officer)
  • University of Central Arkansas
  • General Incorporated Association Japan Lions
  • Mr. S.P. Roussety
  • Serhiy Komisarenko
  • Dr. Ngambe Tharcisse, CD
  • Special Education Division - Ghana Education Service
  • Dr. Coulibaly Madiarra Espe Offia
  • Mrs. Constandia Voniatis
  • Mrs. Vivienne Azran
  • Johanna Oskarsson, CD
  • Sands China Ltd.
  • Abu Dhabi Public Health Center
  • Dr. Adib Jaber
  • Aruna Abhey Oswal
  • Dr. Ouafaa Bouragba
  • Hôpital Ophtalmologique de la Fondation Bouamatou a Nouakchott
  • Dr. Pedro Rivera Soto, CD
  • Ana Edith Hernández Escobar, CD
  • School of Odontology of the Universidad de Valparaiso
  • Escuela de Nutricion POLISAL – UNAN
  • Dr. Melissa Brown
  • Selena Snowden, CD
  • Pixie Plummer, MD, FAAP
  • Dr. Jen Smart, CD
  • Renne Wyman
  • Missouri Care - Edward Williams
  • Rebecca Morley, CD
  • Lisa Esparza
  • University of Toledo Exercise Science Department
  • Ahead in the Game - Tara Costello
  • McGill School of Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • Medical University of South Carolina (Dr. LaRosa)
  • Speak Up Africa
  • The Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians
  • Dr. Matt Adamkin, CD

2019 Global Award Honorees

Seven are Honored for Championing Global Health Work with Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards

2019 Golisano Global Health Leadership Award Presented March 13, 2019 in Abu Dhabi to Honorees: Seated from left to right: Luc Marks, Ann Costello, Nyasha Derera, Kamal Bani-Hani, Ashok Dhoble; Standing from left to right: Adnon Villamayor, Ying Feng, Javier Vasquez, Manoj Shah, Jayna Shah, Peter Seidenberg, Renee Manfredi, Drew Boshell, Reena Kumar

On March 13, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, the Golisano Foundation and Special Olympics honored seven healthcare organizations and professionals who are on the frontlines of bringing essential and often unprecedented health care services to the most marginalized people on earth, those with intellectual disabilities. The Golisano Global Health Leadership Award, named for philanthropist and Paychex founder Tom Golisano, was presented to seven recipients at a ceremony at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games. Read more

2018 Regional Golisano Health Leadership Awards

Read more about the 2018 honorees

  • Dr. Rena Szabo, Arizona
  • Dr. Jim Farris, Arizona
  • Dr. Randi Winston- Gerson, Arizona
  • James Hunt, MD, Arkansas
  • Dr. Mohammad Hafizur Rahman, Bangledash
  • Dr. Shahidul Haque, Bangledash
  • Bangladesh Lions Foundation, Bangledash
  • Collaboration platform: Belgian Dentists support Special Olympics Special Smiles, Belgium
  • Diane Buekers, Belgium
  • Melina Willems, Belgium
  • Dr. Ashok D. Dhoble, Bharat
  • Mr. C. Rajashekar, Bharat
  • Dr. Reena Kumar, Bharat
  • Brad McDougall, British Columbia
  • Pam Kiselbach, British Columbia
  • Hua Dong Hospital / China, China
  • Comfort Dental, Colorado
  • Izabella Pulvermacher, RDH, Connecticut
  • MUDr. Libor ČERNÝ, PhD, Czech Republic
  • WE Telecom Egypt, Egypt
  • Dar Eloyoun – Eye Hospital, Egypt
  • Egyptian Ambulance Organization, Egypt
  • David Cato, Florida
  • Doctor Virginia Rosales, Guatemala
  • Visión Integral Clinic, Guatemala
  • Submanagement Sciences Applied to Sports of the Comité Olímpico Guatemalteco and Confederación Deportiva Autónoma de Guatemala, Guatemala
  • Dental Lifeline Network, Hawaii
  • Project Vision Hawai’i, Hawaii
  • Aloha Medical Mission, Hawaii
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Indiana, Indiana
  • Finish Line, Indiana
  • Montgomery-Parke Unified Fitness Club, Indiana
  • Lynda McGivney-Nolan, Ireland
  • KARE, Ireland
  • Professor Kamal Bani-Hani - President of Hashemite University, Jordan
  • Nutri Center, Jordan
  • Nazik Al-Hariri Welfare Center for Special Education, Jordan
  • Lions Sight First Eye Hospital, Kenya
  • Dr. Saiid Mekkawi, Saida Orphange institution, Lebabon
  • Sands China Ltd., Macau
  • Widex Macau Hearing and Speech Centre, Macau
  • We Care Dental Center, Macau
  • Dr. Sylvana Mifsud, Malta
  • Mr Louis Daniel BAPTISTE, Mauritius
  • Lions Club of Curepipe, Mauritius
  • NGO Trust Fund, Mauritius
  • Centro Médico ABC, Campus Santa Fe, Mexico
  • Karen Roth, Michigan
  • Carol Dahlke, Minnesota
  • Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Missouri
  • National Trauma and Orthopedic Research Center of Mongolia, Mongolia
  • Todd Hoar, Montana
  • Marne Iwand, Nebraska
  • Rob Viveen, Netherlands
  • Dr. Abrahim Caroci, New York
  • Dr. Jeanine Doherty, New Zealand
  • Yuri Javier Cruz Cerna, Nicaragua
  • Marlon Alberto Torres Aragon, Nicaragua
  • Dr Ogechi Nwokedi, Nigeria
  • Dr Boye Akinsulire, Nigeria
  • Jen Roberts, North Carolina
  • Carolinas Rehabilitation, North Carolina
  • Nadine Furtado, Ontario
  • Melanie de Jesus, Ontario
  • Tom Weissberger, Ontario
  • Oregon State University College of Health and Human Sciences, Oregon
  • Jim Chesnutt, MD – OHSU, March Wellness and Fitness Center, OHSU Sports Medicine, Oregon
  • Dr. Andrew Ame, Papau New Guinea
  • Dr. Josephine Chanoan, Papau New Guinea
  • Ben Theodore, Papau New Guinea
  • Governor of Amambay, Luis González, Paraguay
  • Rector of UNIDA, Leila Rachid, Paraguay
  • Director of the third health region, Dra. Dorisel Ferreira, Paraguay
  • Peter Seidenberg, Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Anna Nadolska, Poland
  • Dr. Joanne Reid, Prince Edward Island
  • McGill Faculty of dentistry, Quebec
  • Université de Montreal, Ecole d’optométrie, Quebec
  • Faculté de médecine dentaire de l'Université Laval, Quebec
  • CEFAPEK, Rwanda
  • SOS Medecin, Senegal
  • Speak up Africa, Senegal
  • Docteur Mohamadou Boli, Senegal
  • G. A. Iwanka Yasadari Fonseka, Serendib
  • Tine Kovačič, Slovenia
  • Thermana Laško, d.d., Slovenia
  • loveLife, South Africa
  • Profesora Alis Ramos, Venezuela
  • Hospital de Especialidades Pediátricas de Maracaibo (Estado Zulia), Venezuela
  • Hoang Van Quyen, Vietnam
  • Kaiser Permanente, Washington
  • Dr. Erick Hartman, Washington

2017 Global Award Honorees

Photo: The First Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards presented in March 2016 in Austria. Honorees: Seated from left to right: Remi Huwaert, Paul Nauwelaerts, Ann Costello, Amporn Benjaponpitak, Mary Davis, Boonrueng Triraungworawat. Standing from left to right: Drew Boshell, Susan Danberg, Mohamed Askar, Stephen Sulkes, Denisse Aguilar, Peter Mazunda, Steven Perlman, Jianbo Zhu

The 2017 Global recipients of this prestigious international award are:

Africa: Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for their work with Special Olympics Uganda in creating health solutions where there is no access to healthcare. KOICA provides volunteer staff in the areas of medical and sports and holds free medical camps in the communities where athletes live. KOICA also has a mobile health program that provides medical screenings and treatment for the community. To date more than 400 athletes have benefited from this partnership. See Video

Asia/Pacific: Rajanukul Institute, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand in Bangkok, Thailand for launching a national health assessment program for children with intellectual disabilities. The institute’s healthcare and educational personnel have developed screening tools specific to the needs of athletes, prepared training resources for health care professionals and special educators, as well as providing healthcare advice to athletes and families. The Rajanukul Institute has expanded the Healthy Community model from six pilot schools to the remaining 14 schools across the country. The Rajanukul Institute has provided services to over 5,000 athletes and trained over 140 health care professionals. See Video

East Asia: Beijing Tongren Eye Hospital, Capital Medical University in Beijing, China for coordinating medical professionals throughout China and ensuring sustainable eye health and treatment access are available to Special Olympics athletes. The hospital has committed to provide 300 free medical check and consultation for people with ID who need follow up care every year. Since Beijing Tongren Eye Hospital, CMU has engaged with Special Olympics Opening Eyes, over 3,000 athletes have been screened. See Video

Europe/Eurasia: Lions Club International MD 112 in Brussels, Belgium for their leadership in creating healthcare solutions for Special Olympics athletes and their investment in making Special Olympics Belgium a Healthy Community. Lions Clubs Belgium supports Belgium’s Healthy Athletes program financially by covering costs for the necessary supplies for multiple Healthy Athletes events. Lions Clubs International Belgium supports the Belgium's Healthy Athletes Program also on a logistical level. Each year they gather almost 4000 giveaways to donate to Special Olympics events. See Video

Latin America: Universidad Cientifica del Sur – Escuela de Estomatologíca (FCS) in Lima, Peru for educating hundreds of dental students on how to care for people with intellectual disabilities and for opening their doors to Special Olympics Peru athletes to provide inclusive dental treatment. Universidad Cientifica del Sur also provides dental care for people with intellectual disabilities at no charge. The academic curriculum of the dental program has been updated to include eight mandatory hours to train students on how to approach and interact with patients who have special needs. This model will be replicated with other medical schools at the university. See Video

Middle East/North Africa: Dr. Mohamed Askar of Cairo, Egypt for his leadership in Special Olympics Health work in Egypt and opening the doors of his orthopedic practice to provide free services for people with intellectual disabilities. Dr. Askar recruits and trains volunteer health professionals during Special Olympics events and in his private orthopedic clinic. Dr. Askar’s clinic also provides free medical care for athletes. By doing this he encourages families to bring their children for follow up, referrals and treatment if needed. Dr. Askar uses his connections with medical companies and universities to secure equipment, supplies and free medical balls and wheelchairs for athletes during the events. SeeVideo


North America: Stephen Sulkes, MD, Co-Director of the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, USA In partnership with Special Olympics New York. In his work as the Co-Director of the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Stephen Sulkes has championed Healthy Communities work and has been an incredible resource and advisor. He has secured grants from organizations such as the Special Hope Foundation to improve the fitness of Special Olympics New York athletes. He founded the Rochester student chapter of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) and encourages students to get involved with Special Olympics both through Healthy Athletes but also as event volunteers and coaches. Dr. Sulkes’ work is also reflective of the unique commitment of the University of Rochester to make inclusive health a part of its strategic plan - advancing access to care in multiple arenas - from the Complex Care Center and enhanced access to oral health, to training the next generation of clinicians to care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. See Video

Two Pioneer Awards for Lifetime Achivement Presented

In addition to the seven 2017 awards, two Pioneer Awards for lifetime achievement were presented to Steven Perlman, DDS of Boston, Massachusetts and Paul Berman, OD(Posthumously) of Hillsdale, N.J for founding Special Olympics Healthy Athletes 20 years ago. Their vision and pioneering work launched Healthy Athletes Special Smiles and Opening Eyes and paved the way for medical and dental professionals in medical schools, medical centers and private practices to improve access and standards of care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Steven Perlman, DDS is a Clinical Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at The Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine. Perlman is a past president of both the Academy of Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities and The Massachusetts Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.  In addition, he has served on the executive board of both organizations for many years. Perlman founded Special Olympics Special Smiles, an Oral Health Initiative for the athletes of Special Olympics International.  He currently serves as their Senior Global Clinical Advisor.

Paul Berman, OD (1950-2013) was the founder and global clinical director of the Special Olympics' Opening Eyes and Healthy Athletes programs, Berman received many accolades including the 2007 "Spirit Award for Special Lifetime Global Leadership in Promoting Human Dignity" and, in 2012, White House "Champions of Change." Berman served as a senior consultant for Essilor with emphasis on philanthropic activities. Additionally, he served as director of professional relations and education for Liberty Sport Liberty Sport and was team optometrist for the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

Video of 2017 Global Honorees Work

2016 Regional Golisano Health Leadership Awards

The 2016-17 Golisano Health Leadership Local Awards were presented in 18 individuals and organizations:

  • Dr. Kelly Pritchett, Nebraska Healthy Hearing Clinic Director, Lincoln Nebraska
  • Carol Yakiwchuk, Oral Health Manager for the First Nations Health Authority, British Columbia, Canada
  • Chisomo Tumeo, Clinician and manager a local health center, Malawi
    Dr. Michael Milano, direct provider of care, Special Olympics North Carolina
    Dr. Marc Colaluce, Statewide Volunteer Clinical Director for Special Olympics Florida
  • Edith Nthiga, Kenya
  • Centro Medico ABC, private hospital in Mexico
  • Dr. Jeffrey Zlotnick, Special Olympics New Jersey
  • Paraguay Ministry of Health
  • Kaiser Permanente Hawaii
  • Warren Newman, Special Olympics  Arkansas
  • Gift of the Givers, South Africa
  • University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine
  • Dr. Jiří Jandl and Dr. Olga Jandlova, dentists in Czech Republic
  • Dr. Augusto Diaz Escobar, Director of the Optometrist Faculty at Universidad Latina, Costa Rica
  • Layton Rehmatullah Benevolent Trust Eye Hospital,Pakistan
  • Dr. Kaja Wichrowska-Rymarek, dentist in Poland
  • Lynda Christel, Volunteer, Special Olympics Arizona

Related News

Press Release 2019 Global Awards

2019 Global Awards Program

2018 Regional Award Honorees

Press Release 2017 Global Awards

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