In 2010, Walmart and its Foundation provided $2.1 million in grants to support Special Olympics nationwide. In addition, the Walmart Foundation has provided the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program throughout the United States with “Relief Grants”, designed to provide critical health screening and intervention services in support of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
These “Relief Grants” have helped many Special Olympics Programs maintain a continuity of service provision, and offering new types of services as part of the growing partnership between Special Olympics and the Walmart Foundation.
Just ask Special Olympics Michigan athlete Jeremy Valade, who was found at Healthy Athletes to have severe osteoporosis. Through the purchase of bone density machines with relief grant funding, Special Olympics Programs were able to provide early detection services to athletes like Jeremy, as well as nutritional education and logistical supports like transportation to help make sure more athletes are able to take advantage of Healthy Athletes.
The results are life-changing. Jeremy was able to start treatments and improve his bone strength. His mother credits Healthy Athletes and Walmart for identifying a problem that otherwise would have gone undetected until Jeremy broke a bone or has some other serious injury. “He is the picture of a healthy guy. He is thin. He is muscular. He is strong. You would never imagine there was a problem,” she said.
In 2010, Walmart funding allowed for 15 Programs to conduct 36 events and screen nearly 10,000 athletes.
The health of persons with intellectual disabilities is of critical importance to the Movement of Special Olympics, and it is through health services provided by concerned corporate sponsors that Special Olympics Programs are able to create continued, local positive health impacts. These impacts affect not only the athletes, but also their families, their local health care community, coaches, and more.