MedFest making an impact on our athletes and our volunteers

September 30, 2019 Blog

A SOWI athlete with medical volunteers at the 2018 MedFest

MedFest will be on Sunday, October 20 this year where athletes can receive FREE physical exams. The event will be located at Weston Hall inside Dale’s Weston Lanes during the Region 2 Regional Bowling Tournament.

MedFest is SOWI’s Healthy Athletes screening program that meets the requirements of a standard sports physical, meaning athletes can use this free opportunity to get cleared to participate in SOWI competitions. MedFest consists of a number of stations for medical history assessments; height and weight; blood pressure; cardiology test; musculoskeletal test; orthopedic tests; abdominal evaluation; and a check-out station for follow-up care as needed. MedFest is so important in part because SOWI athletes must be examined by a physician or trained medical professional in order to compete in the year-round competitions.

This program has proven to be an outstanding benefit for Special Olympics athletes all across the U.S. The screenings from this event have found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes’ possess significant health concerns in need of further treatment. 74% of adult Special Olympics athletes in the U.S. are overweight or obese and 20% of Special Olympics athletes in the U.S. under the age of 20 are overweight or obese.

People with intellectual disabilities are also often associated with long-term side effects from the medications that they take. These side effects include osteoporosis, weight gain, and sun sensitivity. Athletes who attend MedFest are able to have these conditions diagnosed. In some cases, life-threatening conditions have been found and subsequently treated thanks to MedFest.

A medical student from the Medical College of Wisconsin conducts an eye exam on an athlete at the 2018 MedFest

Because it’s free, convenient and low-stress, MedFest helps recruit new athletes to Special Olympics and retain current athletes. But it’s also such an important program because it provides physicians, nurses and other health care providers with training and specialized experience in the examination and assessment of people with intellectual disabilities.

Unfortunately, 90% of primary care residency programs in the U.S. offer no training in caring for people with ID and 81% of graduating medical students in the U.S. report not having training in the care of people with ID.

MedFest is lucky to have medical students from the Medical College of Wisconsin who volunteer every year to help our athletes while also getting essential training in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Our volunteers play a significant role in all of our Healthy Athletes events and they help make a lasting impact on our athletes. We’re excited to welcome at least 15 volunteers from the Medical College of Wisconsin to our 2019 MedFest.

The medical volunteers at the 2018 MedFest

MedFest provides a welcoming environment for athletes, parents and guardians to address any questions or concerns in an unintimidating space. We invite athletes with a current medical on file with Special Olympics to MedFest, even if they are not competing at the bowling tournament on Sunday.

This year will also feature Special Smiles alongside MedFest, so athletes can have their teeth checked in addition to getting their physicals.

Contact Melissa Schoenbrodt at (608) 442-5676 or mschoenbrodt@specialolympicswisconsin.org to register for MedFest. Walk-ins are also welcome!


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