Timothy Shriver Receives 2007 Humanitarian Award From Lions Clubs International

2007-07-04 08:54 1192

WASHINGTON, July 4 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Special Olympics International announced today that Chairman Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D., has been honored by Lions Clubs International with the 2007 Lions Humanitarian Award, the highest accolade bestowed by the service club organization. Shriver received the award before a crowd of more than 15,000 Lions and their families at the 90th Lions Clubs International Convention being held this week in Chicago. The Lions Humanitarian Award includes a US $200,000 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation for continuing humanitarian activities. Previous recipients include former U. S. President Jimmy Carter and Mother Teresa.

"We've had a long working relationship with Dr. Shriver and Special Olympics," said Lions Clubs International President Jimmy M. Ross. "Dr. Shriver has helped transform Special Olympics into a movement that focuses on acceptance, inclusion and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities in all corners of the globe. We are proud to present him with our highest honor-Lions International Humanitarian Award."

Shriver has led the charge in educating the world about health care disparities among individuals with intellectual disabilities. Under his leadership, initiatives, such as the Healthy Athletes(R) program, have been developed to enhance the quality of life for millions of people with intellectual disabilities, including the more than 2.5 million Special Olympics athletes and their families in more than 160 countries.

Since 2001, Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International have partnered to improve vision care for Special Olympics athletes worldwide through the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes(R) program. At Opening Eyes events, Special Olympics athletes receive free vision and eye health tests, refractions, prescription eyeglasses and protective sports eyewear, as well as referrals for follow-up care. Opening Eyes also educates vision specialists on how to best treat the intellectual disability population. More than 100,000 athletes have been screened through the Opening Eyes partnership, with prescription eyewear provided to more than 44,000 athletes.

"Thousands of Special Olympics athletes’ lives have been transformed through the Opening Eyes program, including an athlete who went on to win a gold medal in a track competition because he could finally see the finish line," said Shriver. "I am honored to receive this award on behalf of Special Olympics and our Healthy Athletes initiative which continues to be a catalyst for change. Together with Lions Clubs International, we are showing how a strong social partnership makes a sustainable impact on the global, underserved intellectual disability population."

Launched officially as a Special Olympics program in 1997, Healthy Athletes provides free health screenings and services to athletes at local, state/provincial, national and World Games. Comprised of seven unique disciplines -- Fit Feet, FUNfitness, Health Promotion, Healthy Hearing, MedFest, Opening Eyes, and Special Smiles(R) -- the program goal is to improve training and competition by focusing on the overall health and fitness of Special Olympics athletes through basic health screenings, educational information and referrals for follow-up care as needed. Implemented globally, nearly 500,000 screenings have been completed since program inception and more than 50,000 health professionals and volunteers have received training for working with patients with intellectual disabilities; this training helps health professionals increase their knowledge, comfort level and competence in working with patients with intellectual disabilities and enables them to bring these skills back to their communities. Through Healthy Athletes, Special Olympics has also emerged as a research leader on the health disparities of individuals with intellectual disabilities; the organization periodically releases studies aimed at improving the health of this population.

Special Olympics is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to 2.5 million adults and children with intellectual disabilities across 165 countries. The Special Olympics movement offers one of the world’s greatest platforms for acceptance and inclusion for all people-regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or cultural differences. Find out how you can become involved at .

Source: Special Olympics International