Finish Line, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Recognized for Contributions to Special Olympics Indiana’s Efforts toward Inclusive Health
Indiana’s Golisano Health Leadership Awards were presented to Finish Line, Anthem, and the Montgomery-Parke Unified Fitness Club during the 2018 Indiana Summer Games.
INDIANAPOLIS — Special Olympics Indiana is honored to announce the selection of Finish Line, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Indiana, and the Montgomery-Parke Unified Fitness Club as 2018 Golisano Health Leadership Award honorees. The awards were presented June 8 at a banquet preceding Opening Ceremonies for the 2018 Indiana Summer Games.
The Golisano Health Leadership Award was established in 2016, resulting from a partnership between Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation, and is presented to an individual or organization that is dedicated to improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities and advancing the health work of Special Olympics. Indiana’s awardees are among a select few to be recognized by Special Olympics Healthy Communities around the world and are now eligible to receive the global award to be presented at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
“These awards are meant to recognize the people and organizations who are going above and beyond in the name of improving the overall health and well-being of the people we serve, and we have three extremely deserving recipients here in Indiana,” said Special Olympics Indiana President & CEO Jeff Mohler. “The impact of the contributions of Finish Line and Anthem cannot be overstated, and the accomplishments of the Montgomery-Parke Unified Fitness Club are a testament to the outstanding leadership ability of our athletes.”
Finish Line and the Finish Line Youth Foundation, both headquartered in Indianapolis, are longtime supporters of Special Olympics programs in Indiana and across the world. Beginning with the awarding of a grant in 2011, Finish Line has contributed significant financial resources and thousands of volunteer hours in support of Special Olympics Indiana’s efforts toward improving athlete health and fitness every year since. In response to a statistic indicating that as many as half of all Special Olympics athletes may be wearing improper or ill-fitting footwear—and as incentive for participating in a variety of Healthy Athletes exams—Finish Line has provided and professionally fitted nearly 3,000 pairs of athletic shoes to Summer Games competitors over the past two years.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Indiana began its extensive support of Special Olympics Indiana in 2010 with a grant toward a partnership with INShape Indiana, and has since provided significant funding toward coaches education initiatives and the establishment of the Unified Fitness Club program—designed to engage Special Olympics athletes and unified partners in regular, year-round exercise. Anthem has also been heavily engaged in the planning and execution of Special Olympics Indiana’s Healthy Athletes® program, working to provide athletes opportunities to participate in free health exams and reducing obstacles to necessary follow-up care.
Indiana’s third and final 2018 Golisano Health Leadership Award was presented to the Montgomery-Parke Counties Unified Fitness Club, led by Special Olympics athlete Mike Baker and his wife, Tina. With 40 participating Special Olympics athletes and 45 partners, this club is the most accomplished in the nation, documenting 73,373 miles from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.
Since 2012, philanthropist and Paychex Chairman Tom Golisano, and the Golisano Foundation, have committed $37 million to the Special Olympics Health program to increase access to inclusive health, fitness and wellness programs for people with intellectual disabilities in the communities in which they live.
People with intellectual disabilities are part of one of the largest and most medically underserved disability groups in the world. Millions with intellectual disabilities lack access to quality health care and experience dramatically higher rates of preventable disease, chronic pain and suffering, and premature death in every country around the world.
Special Olympics’ vision of its health program, made possible by the Golisano Foundation, is to create a world where people with intellectual disabilities have the same opportunities and access to health care as people without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics’ 19 years of experience identifying and addressing the unmet health needs of people with intellectual disabilities has revealed myriad complex barriers to health faced by this population. Barriers to this vision include lack of access to quality health care, education, and resources.
Through this multi-layered effort, Special Olympics is working to create a tipping point where health becomes inclusive for people with intellectual disabilities globally by changing curriculum, training health care professionals and policymakers, influencing policy, advocating for inclusive health programming, building partnerships for follow up care and harnessing the power of the Special Olympics Movement to build awareness. Learn more by visiting www.specialolympics.org/health.
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ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS INDIANA
Special Olympics Indiana is a nonprofit organization that is a part of the global Special Olympics 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 1969, Special Olympics Indiana has grown to more than 14,000 athletes and unified partners in virtually every county throughout the state. With the support of nearly 10,000 coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the participants. Learn more by visiting www.soindiana.org.
ABOUT TOM GOLISANO AND THE GOLISANO FOUNDATION
Tom Golisano — entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader — is the founder and chairman of the board of Paychex, Inc., headquartered in Rochester. 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 $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. Learn more by visiting www.golisanofoundation.org.
Nathan Barnes, Manager of Grants & Communication
Kelly Ries, Director of Advancement