MedFest 2014 a great success for athletes, students and volunteers alike

December 17, 2014

On December 6, during Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Northern Fall Sports Tournament, 46 athletes received a free sports physical as part of the fourth annual MedFest event. 

Volunteer physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and medical students led this free health screening. The screening consists of the following stations: medical history, height and weight, blood pressure, cardiology test, musculoskeletal test, orthopedic tests, abdominal evaluation, and a check-out station.

A total of 182 athletes have now received a sports physical thanks to MedFest. Individuals  with intellectual disabilities often face a myriad of barriers to receiving adequate health care, including financial or insurance concerns, difficulties with transportation, and finding healthcare providers who are able to cater to his or her specific needs.  

Four years ago, Ministry Health Care partnered with Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Healthy Athletes program, and the organization supports MedFest through volunteer recruitment, supplies and extending provider insurance to the event. 

Dr. Michael Clark, a board member for Special Olympics Wisconsin, generously donates his time to organize MedFest and had seen the first-hand impact the screenings have on athletes, as well as the success of the overall event.   

“The flow of athletes was smooth with minimal wait times. We detected a few [health] concerns needing follow-up, but no major issues,” said Dr. Clark. 

Not only do athletes receive great care during the event, but the volunteers are also able to learn valuable lessons on how to further work with individuals with intellectual disabilities. 

“Our volunteers absolutely learn as much as our athletes do during MedFest—they learn new communication strategies and how to really take these big picture ideas about being healthy and turn them into easy-to-understand facts perfect for our athletes to take away,” said Melissa Schoenbrodt, Director of Athlete Wellness Initiatives for Special Olympics Wisconsin. 

For volunteers, this means a unique hands-on service learning opportunity and a day of also making new friends. Students from the Medical College of Wisconsin came out for the event to donate their time and energy to the day and to get them ready for their future careers.

Paul Merchant, a first-year medical student volunteer from the Medical College of Wisconsin, wrapped up the day saying that it opened his eyes to different experiences, and that there was “Great teamwork moments between athletes, doctors and students.” 



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