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

Honorees Announced at Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi by Ann Costello

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

2019 Golisano Global Health Leadership Award 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

Abu Dhabi, UAE––March 13, 2019––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 (ID).

The Golisano Global Health Leadership Award, named for philanthropist and Paychex founder Tom Golisano, was presented to seven recipients at a ceremony today in Abu Dhabi at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games.

The Golisano Global Health Leadership Award was established in 2016 to recognize the progress being made around the world to increase access to essential health care for people with ID. It is Special Olympics’ highest honor for health partners.

The honorees are health champions in their countries. Their extraordinary efforts are fulfilling the goals, values, mission, and targets of Special Olympics’ global health strategy, made possible by the Golisano Foundation. This award recognizes individual leaders and organizations that promote inclusive health systems, wellness, and fitness for people with ID.

 “As we honor the 2019 Golisano Global Health Leadership Award honorees we recognize the impressive work health care professionals can achieve to care for a marginalized population.” shared Ann Costello, Executive Director of the Golisano Foundation. “We applaud these individuals and organizations and challenge others to make the same strides for people with ID.”

“These recipients have demonstrated their commitment to ensuring inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities is possible in every corner of the world.” said Mary Davis, Special Olympics CEO. “They are making strides to help Special Olympics reach our global target of facilitating access to health for 11 million people with ID by 2020.”

The seven global finalists were selected from a record 105 recipients of the 2018 regional Golisano Health Leadership Awards by a Special Olympics International cross-departmental team of Special Olympics athlete leaders, Healthy Athletes Global Clinical Advisors and a representative from the Golisano Foundation.

Awards Program (PDF)

Watch: 2019 Golisano Global Health Leadership Award Honorees

Watch: Imagine the Possibilities – Special Olympics Health

Kenya: Lions Sight First Eye Hospital for making significant impact for follow-up care for Special Olympics Kenya athletes. In the past 5 years, the hospital has donated more than 1,000 eye glasses and conducted more than 15 surgeries free of charge for Special Olympics Kenya’s athletes.

India: Dr. Ashok Dhoble, the Honorary Secretary General for the Indian Dental Association (IDA)  for collaborating with Special Olympics and the IDA to sign an MOU committing to year-round access to oral healthcare to Bharat athletes and caregivers.


China: Hua Dong Hospital for forming a medical volunteer team to support Special Olympics Healthy Athletes screenings and establish a year-round Special Olympics Health Support Project team. The Hospital promotes the equal health rights for people with intellectual disability in China. The Health Project team has conducted Healthy Athletes events in 17 cities and completed more than 12,000 screenings.


Belgium: Belgian Dentists Collaboration for forming a “National Collaboration Platform” for dentists in Belgium to achieve better oral health outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities. Led by dentists Dr. Luc Marks and Dr. Michel De Decker, both Special Smiles Clinical Directors, through a national collaboration, four major Belgian Universities partnered with all dental professional organizations to improve the oral health of people with ID.



Paraguay: Dr. Dorisel Ferreira, the Director of the Third Health Region of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, for recruiting staff from the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare to volunteer at Healthy Athletes as well as getting the Ministry of Health to provide the equipment necessary for Healthy Athletes events. Dr. Ferreira has created a network for follow-up care, making it possible for athletes and their families to get medical care, dental care, immunizations, and specialty care at local hospitals.


Jordan: Professor Kamal Bani-Hani, President of Hashemite University, for collaborating with Special Olympics Jordan on health, education, and sports. Hani-Bani works with students in sport science, special education, and medicine to volunteer within Special Olympics Jordan’s health and fitness programs and at competitions and events. This partnership has raised awareness among a new generation of professionals on the importance of community inclusion for people with ID.


USA: Dr. Peter Seidenberg, a family and sports medicine physician at Penn State Sports Medicine College, for evaluating, strengthening, and contributing to the global roll-out of MedFest, and working with Special Olympics Pennsylvania to create a directory of providers who will accept athletes in need of follow up care. Dr. Seidenberg is currently developing Continuing Medical Education lectures to train healthcare providers how to deliver quality care to people with ID and work to reduce health disparities.


The Golisano Foundation is making Special Olympics Health work possible globally and has invested $37 million to create and expand Special Olympics Healthy Communities throughout the world. Golisano’s gift is the largest received by Special Olympics, and is also the largest single gift ever given by Tom Golisano and his Foundation.


About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including Bank of America, the Christmas Records Trust, The Coca-Cola Company, ESPN, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions Clubs International, Microsoft, Safilo Group, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, TOYOTA, United Airlines, and The Walt Disney Company.

Tom Golisano and Golisano Foundation
Tom Golisano — entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader — is the founder and chairman of the board of Paychex, Inc., headquartered in Rochester, NY, USA. With more than 12,000 employees and 100 office locations nationwide, Paychex is a leading national provider of payroll, human resource, and benefit outsourcing solutions for more than a half-million small and medium-sized businesses. Tom’s vision, perseverance and action have left an indelible mark on a broad spectrum of issues that touch our lives - in business, healthcare, education, voter policies, politics, and tax reform. A fierce advocate for dignity and inclusion, Tom Golisano applied his pioneering spirit to establish the Golisano Foundation to help make the world a better place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In addition to Tom’s personal philanthropic contributions to hospitals, educational institutions and other organizations exceeding $300 million, the Golisano Foundation is now one of the largest private foundations in the United States devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1985, the Foundation is focused on “Imagining the Possibilities.” With more than $40 million in gross assets, it has awarded more than $24 million in grants, about $2 million annually, to non-profit organizations that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Read more on Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation's commitment to Inclusive Health for people with intellectual disabilities.

See 2018 Regional Golisano Health Leadership Award Honorees

March 13, 2019

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