Volunteer professionals provided free dental care to 21 Special Olympics atheltes during the Mission of Mercy on June 24, 2011. View photos from the event on Facebook.
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.
The Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Healthy Athlete Founding Partner, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, became a partner with SOWI in 2002, and has generously donated over $200,000 since that time.
Purpose of Charitable Contributions for Delta Dental of Wisconsin:
To promote the value of sound oral health for everyone by supporting initiatives focused on improving access to dental care and raising awareness of the importance of proper oral health. Delta Dental endeavors to:
- Ensure that oral health is viewed as an important health concern.
Make prevention a priority.
- Promote oral health education programs and activities that empower individual action.
- Focus on under served populations.
- Support programs and research which advance the science of dentistry.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts and share the results with the public.
- Strike a balance between delivery of oral health services, education, and advocacy.
- Support innovative, practical, sustainable solutions.
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 Summer Games, changing the lives of athletes who have had minimal or no access to basic health care in the past.
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. Walmart 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 on file is welcome to participate the in Healthy Athletes program even if they are not registered for that particular state tournament.
From 2005-2011, Special Olympics Wisconsin Healthy Athletes Program has preformed over 11,000 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 which Healthy Athletes is being offered!
Thank you to Walmart, Delta Dental and the Lions Club for making the Healthy Athletes Program possible!
Click on icon below to learn more about each discipline
Thank you to the over 300 professional volunteers who made the four Healthy Athletes events possible in 2011. 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 Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Healthy Athletes Program:
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
Since 2001, the Lions Clubs 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.
Read Merging Sports and Health within the Special Olympics Movement by Darcie Mersereau, VP, Health Programs, Special Olympics Inc.
Congratulations to Special Olympics Wisconsin Medfest Clinical Director Michael Clark on being awarded Marquette University’s Young Alumnus of the Year. Read more
For more information on the Healthy Athletes Program, contact