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Tom Golisano: A Champion for Global Health

Tom Golisano honored with exhibit of philanthropic work

Tom Golisano was honored at the Rochester Institute of Technology for his contributions to global health, specifically through Special Olympics, in a new Golisano Archives exhibit unveiled last week.

The new “Champion for Global Health” exhibit showcases the ways that Special Olympics’ Healthy Communities initiative — made possible by the Golisano Foundation — is opening doors for people with intellectual disabilities around the world.

Healthy Communities is a model global health initiative launched by Special Olympics in 2012 to reduce the severe health disparities that exist for people with intellectual disabilities both in accessing essential health services and improving their health status. With philanthropic support of $37 million from Tom Golisano and the commitment of numerous global partners and volunteers, Healthy Communities is now opening doors to year-round access to healthcare in people’s communities in 54 countries on six continents.

The program’s success has been driven by creating sustainable systems and community level changes to existing healthcare infrastructure and environments where there is no wrong door to walk through and all people with intellectual disabilities can attain the same level of health and wellbeing as others.

Golisano and Javier Vasquez, senior director of Health Systems at Special Olympics International, spoke at the unveiling celebration. The event also featured words from RIT President David Munson; Ann Costello, Golisano Foundation executive director; and Hannah Atkinson, Special Olympics Global Health Ambassador from Denver.
“Since 1985, Tom Golisano has been a true champion for the health rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities worldwide,” said Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics International, in a statement. “As a tireless advocate for the Special Olympics movement, Tom and the Golisano Foundation enable and empower communities of care, where the contributions of people with intellectual disabilities are better understood, encouraged and valued by all.”

“Tom’s financial support to Special Olympics, which has exceeded any single contributor in the 50-year history of the organization, has served as a catalyst to grow this global movement as a force for positive social change and inclusion, improving over the years the health of countless athletes around the world,” said Shriver. “His investments in both time and money to the cause of intellectual disabilities has no parallel, and we are immensely grateful for his continued support.

The new exhibit includes:
• A world map showing where Healthy Communities programs have been established
• Thank you cards from children around the world to Golisano
• A framed handcrafted restraint that a woman used to keep her child “safe” before she was educated as to how to work with someone with intellectual disabilities
• A hand painted batik thanking Golisano
• Medals and lanyards from worldwide Special Olympics competitions, where the program holds many healthy athlete screenings
• A quote from Shriver about Golisano’s support
• Descriptive cubes on the seven elements of health checks for healthy athletes
• An electronic kiosk that has more information and interactive items about Healthy Communities
Picture of exhibit displaying all seven Healthy Athlete disciplines at the Rochester Institute of Technology
Picture of exhibit displaying all seven Healthy Athlete disciplines at the Rochester Institute of Technology. 
Tom Golisano speaking at the event held 20 October.
Tom Golisano speaking at the event held 20 October. 

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice, and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5.6 million athletes and Unified partners in 172 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by many individuals, foundations, and partners.


Stephanie Corkett

Manager, External Health Communications