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Special Olympics is already known for changing the lives of millions of athletes around the world. That change has now become even stronger since the Healthy Athletes program was introduced at the 2001 State Summer Games, changing the lives of athletes who have had minimal or no access to basic health care in the past.

Explore the different Disciplines

Fit Feet Fun Fitness Health Promotion Healthy Hearing MedFest Opening Eyes Special Smiles


The mission of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program is to improve, through better health and fitness, each athlete's ability to train and compete in Special Olympics.

Cost to Athletes

The purpose of the initiative is to provide basic healthcare screenings and testing to Special Olympics athletes AT NO COST.

Benefits to Athletes

Statistics show that people with intellectual disabilities often do not receive the healthcare attention they need. Healthy Athletes provides an additional opportunity for increasing the physical fitness of people with intellectual disabilities. Any Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes who has a valid medical form on file is welcome to participate in the Healthy Athletes program even if they are not registered for that particular state tournament.

In 2012, the Special Olympics Wisconsin Healthy Athletes program performed more than 1,800 screenings.


Any SOWI athlete that has a current medical on file with the Special Olympics Wisconsin Headquarters can participate in the Healthy Athletes Program. All athletes with current medicals are encouraged to attend Healthy Athlete screenings even if they are not competing at the tournament where Healthy Athletes is offered!

Thank you to Delta Dental and the Lions Club for making the Healthy Athletes Program possible!

Volunteer Professionals

Thank you to the over 300 professional volunteers who make the Healthy Athletes events possible annually. Volunteers include dentists, dental hygienists, optometrists, opticians, audiologists, physical therapists, podiatrists, physicians, nurses, physical therapy assistants, pharmacists, health educators, students and nutritionists from all over the state.

SOWI would also like to thank the following professionals for volunteering their time and expertise to be clinical directors for the Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Healthy Athletes program:

Clinical Directors

- Anne Hvisdak, RDH, CDHC – Special Smiles Clinical Director
- Kellye Knueppel, OD, FCOVD – Opening Eyes Clinical Director
- Lois Harrison, PT – Fun Fitness Clinical Director
- Diane Isnard, PT – Fun Fitness Clinical Director
- Dr. David Henry – Health Hearing Clinical Director
- Dr. Birute Balciunas – Fit Feet Clinical Director
- Judy Stych, RN, CDDN – Health Promotions Clinical Director
- Linda Peterson, RD, CD, MPH – Healthy Promotions Clinical Director
- Leah Ederer, MD – SOWI Medical Advisor for Healthy Promotions
- Michael Clark, MD – MedFest Clinical Director
- Dr. Warren LeMay, DDS, MPH - Special Smiles Clinical Director
- Sharri Crowe, RDH, BSDH, MS - Special Smiles Clinical Director
- Pradeep Bhagavatula, DDS, MPH, MS - Special Smiles Clinical Director
- Jane Elliott, MS, CCC-A - Healthy Hearing Clinical Director
- Tami Gumz, AuD, CCC-SLP/A - Healthy Hearing Clinical Director

Lions Club

Since 2001, the Lions Club International Foundation's generous support has made it possible to expand Special Olympics' Opening Eyes initiative globally. The contribution not only maintains and improves all aspects of the initiative, but also helps provide volunteer support to the organization.

For more information on the Healthy Athletes program, contact

Melissa Schoenbrodt
Phone: 608-442-5676

Healthy Communities

Get Fit for Sport Challenge - Learn More

The Vision

To create communities where Special Olympics athletes and others with an intellectual disability have the same access to health and wellness resources – and can attain the same level of good health – as all community members and where there is no “wrong door” for someone with an intellectual disability to walk through.

The Project Goal

To reduce disparities in health status and increase access to community health resources for Special Olympics athletes and others with ID.

Driving It Local: Healthy Communities

In September 2012, it was announced that the Golisano Foundation gifted $12 million to Special Olympics Inc. to extend the scope and reach of health programing to our athletes. Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) was one of fourteen Special Olympics Programs worldwide selected to implement Healthy Communities Demonstration Projects (Healthy Communities) through a grant process allocating the gift.

The Special Olympics Healthy Communities Project is a three-year initiative concluding in July 2015, with an expectation to find sustainable partnerships to continue and expand the initiative following its conclusion. It serves to raise awareness around the issue of health disparities facing people with ID, foster development focused on delivering care to people with ID, and ultimately create communities where Special Olympics athletes and others with ID have the same access to health and wellness resources and can attain the same level of good health as others. At a recent workshop, Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation, shared Tom Golisano’s belief that “If the athletes aren’t the best they can be (in regards to their health), then we’ve missed the mark.” She went on to say that if an athlete can’t see the finish line, can’t hear their coach or the starting gun, or isn’t healthy enough to participate in sports, then why are we here?

The Healthy Communities plan includes priorities and targets for Healthy Athletes at a local level; to improve the sustainability of our local Healthy Athletes programming, to increase its local impact, and to enhance its relevance to local health issues. As a result, Special Olympics Wisconsin is committed to financially and administratively supporting relevant projects/events organized by local Agencies. Examples of local Healthy Community Projects may include, but are not limited, to:

  • Family Health Forums – Athletes/ Coaches/ Caregivers participate in opportunities that provide direct access to relevant health care information and resources.
  • Community Wellness Opportunities – Athletes participate in classes at a local fitness center, join a walking club, take part in a community garden.
  • Special Olympics Wellness Opportunities – Athletes participate in Special Olympics Walking Clubs, Cooking Classes, Weight-loss Classes

Healthy Communities Cooking Series

Oven Safety

Snack Recipe

Cajun Chicken Dinner Recipe

Flatbread Pizza Recipe

Fruit Quesadilla Recipe

For more information:
We would love to hear from you. If you have questions or have a Healthy Communities Project idea, please contact Healthy Community Project Director, Jessica Chuckel at or by calling (715)803-4931.

Healthy Habits


The mission of the Special Olympics Wisconsin Healthy Habits initiative is to improve each athlete's ability to train and compete in Special Olympics by providing them with resources to advance their health, fitness and overall quality of life. By teaching preventative care practices, Healthy Habits reinforces the importance of developing a healthy lifestyle and integrating healthy choices into an athlete’s daily routine.

Cost to Athletes

The program provides health education and related products and services to Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes at no cost.

At an event athletes are supplied with resources related to the Healthy Habit and instructed on ways to develop the habit.

Benefits to Athletes

Statistics reveal that individuals with intellectual disabilities often do not receive the healthcare attention they need. Healthy Habits provides an additional opportunity to provide health education and awareness to individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Healthy Habits provides athletes with resources related to each habit as well as education on how to develop these health and wellness habits. A Special Olympics Wisconsin local tournament may offer one or more Healthy Habits education topics. Through Healthy Habits, athletes may receive free blood pressure screenings as well as height and weight checks. They may also learn how to make healthy eating choices, prevent the spread of germs, and interpret their blood pressure and weight results. Other Healthy Habits topics teach athletes proper oral health, sun safety and physical fitness.


Any SOWI athlete that has a current medical on file with the Special Olympics Wisconsin Headquarters is welcome to participate in the Healthy Habits program. All athletes with a valid medical are encouraged to attend Healthy Habits screenings even if they are not competing at a tournament where Healthy Habits is taking place!

For more information, contact:
Melissa Schoenbrodt
Phone: (608)442-5676


SO FIT! is a program designed to provide community wellness opportunities for Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) athletes to participate in endurance sports, set and achieve goals, and be recognized by for their accomplishments. The program promotes community-based training, with goals ranging from simply competing in a 5K run/walk, to running a half marathon and competing in a triathlon. In addition, athletes can train and compete in community events with a non-disabled partner, reaping the rewards of success together. This program applies to individual athletes or relay teams and pertains if the open competition event is endurance by nature.


  • The athlete must be a registered SOWI athlete with a current medical on file to participate.
  • The athlete has agreed to work out at least 1-2 times per week with a trainer.
  • The athlete has agreed to track their progress and submit their training log to SOWI every four weeks.


  • The trainer (coach, *Class A volunteer, family member or friend) will assist athletes in meeting their goals for SO FIT! They will also support the athlete in filling out the training and performance log, if necessary.
  • The trainer will agree to certify the athlete’s progress and verify incentives and/or reimbursement.
*Anyone who has direct contact with athletes or is in a position of authority, supervision or trust of athletes or handles substantial amounts of cash or other assets for Special Olympics needs to be a registered Class A volunteer.


The Recording Process
The training and performance record is designed to be used by the athletes as a log book for recording training progress. A new Training and Performance Record is required every four weeks to document progress and request incentives.

Health Snapshot
A Health Snapshot will provide a quick health evaluation. It is also used to assist in tracking health changes and reveal health issues. Athletes will provide a Health Snapshot at the start of their training and at its conclusion.


Examples may include, but are not limited to:
  • Winter Sports
    • Cross-country Race
    • Snowshoe Race
  • Indoor Sports
    • Stair Climb
  • Summer Sports
    • 5K (Walk or Run)
    • 5 Mile
    • Marathon (Half or Full)
    • Open Water Swim
    • Torch Run
    • Triathlon
    • Triathlon Relay
    • Walk (30 minutes, 3x per week for 8 weeks)
  • Outdoor Sports
    • Mud Run
    • Ride the Drive
    • Bike Race
    • Military Physical Fitness Test
    • Mountain Bike Race


For more information, contact:
Don Wigington
Phone: (608) 828-2622
September 2014
View List of Events
  Sports   Training School
  Fundraising   Athlete Wellness
  Project Unify   Young Athletes
  More than
one event
# Volunteers Needed!
Leadership Forums are Coming to a Town Near You!
2014-09-10 10:47:52 - By: Christina Harris
The purpose of the Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) Leadership Forums are to celebrate our current and new leaders and provide educational opportunities for all stakeholders to learn about other SOWI programs and new resources as well as provide a time to network. Leadership Forums will count toward SOWI coach re-certification.
Join us for the World’s Largest Truck Convoy on September 20!
2014-08-19 12:50:06 - By: Andrew Klossner
On behalf of Special Olympics Wisconsin and the World’s Largest Truck Convoy planning committee, we are excited to announce our Convoy Marshals for 2014: PJ Lynch and Jerry Halboth!

PJ has been involved with Special Olympics Wisconsin for 25 years! He recently played for Team Wisconsin at USA Games in New Jersey, as part of our aquatics team. PJ also serves as an athlete-as-coach for basketball, and is on the planning committee for the Outdoor Sports Tournament.
More than $170,000 Raised at Over the Edge
2014-08-19 09:29:51 - By: Andrew Klossner
More than 140 cause conscious thrill seekers raised more than $170,000 by rappelling Over the Edge of Miller Park on July 19 and Lambeau Field on August 9.
First Director of Law Enforcement Torch Run, Dale Brunner passes.
2014-08-14 11:50:06 - By: Andrew Klossner
It is with great sadness that we share that Retired Sergeant Dale Brunner, of the Milwaukee Police Department and first director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) for Special Olympics Wisconsin passed away on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 after a courageous battle with brain cancer.
Outdoor Sports Tournament Special Story
2014-08-14 10:21:25 - By: Andrew Klossner
After years of competing in Special Olympics bowling, softball and basketball, 31-year-old Ike Walters decided it was time to take a swing at golf. He not only learned how to hit a drive, he scored a new friend in his partner, Steve Vitale.
Special Olympics Athlete Scores Free Dental Care
2014-07-16 14:28:00 - By: Christina Harris
Richard Green, a 31-year-old Special Olympics athlete from Marshfield, Wisconsin, feels at home on the field. But, when he started to experience discomfort in his tooth, it was difficult to focus on anything but the pain.
A Toothy Smile
2014-07-16 14:26:15 - By: Christina Harris
Like many of us, 19-year-old Josh Stankey grinds his teeth. But for Josh, this habit wore down his front tooth so much, it chipped. But, when Josh and his mother sought out a dentist, they couldn't find any who would accept medical assistance.
The Larabee Family
2014-07-07 11:01:27 - By: Christina Harris
1. Watching the athletes interact with each other, compete, and have fun! 2. Meeting, hanging out with, or getting to know other families from around the country, Wisconsin, and those on our bowling team. 3. Watching our son bowl his personal best, a 213.
A Family that Leaps Together, Stays Together
2014-07-02 14:32:58 - By: Christina Harris
Every summer for the past four years Paul Baniel, CFO of the Packers, has strapped on a harness and rappelled Over the Edge of Lambeau Field to raise funds for Special Olympics Wisconsin. This July, his children will follow in his footsteps.
Athletes Kick Off the Outdoor Sports Tournament with Free Foot Screenings
2014-07-02 14:30:26 - By: Christina Harris
Dozens of medical professionals will volunteer to give athletes free podiatry screenings at Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® at the State Outdoor Sports Tournament in Waukesha on Saturday, August 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Fit Feet screenings examine the athlete’s foot, their walking pattern and check their shoe size.
Team Wisconsin Triumphs at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games!
2014-07-02 14:26:26 - By: Christina Harris
Every one of our 62 Team Wisconsin athletes won a medal at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games held in New Jersey June 14-21! The delegation brought home a total of 132 medals and set 54 personal best performances.
Fans Wanted!
2014-07-02 13:58:35 - By: Christina Harris
Fans wanted! Rally your friends, family and colleagues to cheer on Special Olympics athletes at the State Outdoor Sports Tournament August 1-3 in Waukesha. Catch the action at Carroll University, Moor Downs Golf Course and Saratoga Softball Complex.
More than 300 Volunteers Needed at the Special Olympics Wisconsin State Outdoor Sports Tournament hosted in Waukesha!
2014-07-02 13:44:37 - By: Christina Harris
More than 800 athletes will travel across Wisconsin to go for the gold at the Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) State Outdoor Sports Tournament hosted in Waukesha on Friday, August 1 through Sunday, August 3. Bocce and tennis competitions will take place at Carroll University, golf will take place at the Moor Downs Golf Course, and softball competitions will be hosted at both Saratoga Softball Complex and Kilgour Field at Carroll University.
Special Olympics Partners with Brewers and Packers for once-in-a-lifetime Experience at Miller Park and Lambeau Field!
2014-07-02 13:44:26 - By: Christina Harris
Cause-conscious thrill seekers will take part in an urban adventure this summer by rappelling down legendary Miller Park on Saturday, July 19 and Lambeau Field on Saturday, August 9!
The 2014 USA Games-An Experience Team Wisconsin will Remember for a Lifetime by Jason Blank, Powerlifting Coach
2014-06-24 16:14:22 - By: Christina Harris
On Friday, competitions came to an end and all athletes at the Games celebrated a successful week at the Closing Ceremony at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, NJ. The Closing Ceremony was a big party including musical guests, multiple presenters and videos. There was so much that happened during the ceremony; I’ll share a couple of highlights from my perspective. The message of the program was acceptance and “living unified”.

Contact Us

Special Olympics Wisconsin
2310 Crossroads Drive, Suite 1000
Madison, WI 53718

Send Us a Message
Phone: (608) 222-1324
Toll Free: (800) 552-1324

Created by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation for the benefit of persons with intellectual disabilities