Healthy Athletes Resources

The Healthy Athletes program is dedicated to providing health services and education to Special Olympics athletes, and changing the way health systems interact with people with intellectual disabilities.


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Healthy Athletes’ influence is evident with more than 136,000 healthcare professionals trained, free health examinations provided to more than 1.6 million athletes, and 100,000 free pairs of eyeglasses given to athletes. Healthy Athletes continues to grow each year with help from a global network of volunteers, in-kind donations and other financial support. Healthy Athletes is part of Special Olympics' global health program.

For more information, contact Lynn Erickson, (lerickson@specialolympics.org), Department Administrator and Program Manger, Health.


Healthy Athletes News and Stories


May 13, 2016 | SOI: Europe-Eurasia

First Family Health Forum in Greece Makes a Difference

By Martha Jo Braycich

Families at the Special Olympics Hellas (Greece) national games went home with medals, ribbons and new health knowledge.View Story Families at the Special Olympics Hellas (Greece) national games went home with medals, ribbons and new health knowledge. Hellas held its first Family Health Forum during the Games in Loutraki from 18-21 April 2016. “We learned a lot about how to be more proactive about healthy eating, in particular," said Panagiotis Daradimos, who attended with his wife, Maria Kalantzi. "We want our son, Charalambos, 21, to feel better and to be happy. I think we are on the right track. But we need more information sessions like this forum.” The forum was attended by 160 family members who came from all over Greece. The forum was moderated by Ms. Victoria Tousi, Special Olympics Hellas family coordinator. Keynote speak Anna Papatziala-Sitzani provided an overview of the importance of good nutrition and diet in a family setting. She heads the nutrition and dietary department at the Metaxa Hospital in Piraeus. Keynote speaker Zaharis Panagiotis from the Hellenic Red Cross provided important health and safety tips. Both presentations prompted lively discussion among participants. The Family Health Forum was co-funded by the Health Program of the European Union with support from the Hellenic Red Cross and the Lions’ Clubs.

About Martha Jo Braycich:Martha Jo Braycich is Senior Director, Community Impact Initiatives, Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia.
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May 05, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Moving to the Front of the Class for Healthy Athletes Challenge

By By Megan O'Donnell

Zack Kupner of Alleghany County is getting fit thanks to the Healthy Athletes Challenge.

When Zack Kupner joins his class instructor at the front of his fitness class at the Alleghany Wellness Center everyone smiles!View Story When Zack Kupner joins his class instructor at the front of his fitness class at the Alleghany Wellness Center everyone smiles! Kupner literally came from the back of the room where he wouldn’t participate at all when the Healthy Athletes Challenge first began and now he’s at the front of the class. The exercise is paying off. “He really likes to exercise now,” said his mom. “He’s always had some foot problems and I’ve noticed his strength and endurance are much improved. We walked all around Grandfather Mountain and Linville Falls one day last weekend and he handled it all just fine! I was so surprised.”

About By Megan O'Donnell:Several western North Carolina counties of which Alleghany County is one are participating in the Healthy Athletes Challenge, a fitness and nutrition based program, funded by the NC GlaxoSmithKline Ribbon of Hope grant to Special Olympics NC.
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April 19, 2016 | North America: North Carolina

Wednesday is "Moving Day" for Watauga County Athlete

By Megan O'Donnell

Shannon Quinlan proudly wears her red Healthy Athletes Challenge T-shirt each Wednesday.

Each Wednesday morning for the past six months, Special Olympics Watauga County athlete Shannon Quinlan has proudly donned her freshly washed, red Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Challenge T-shirt.View Story Each Wednesday morning for the past six months, Special Olympics Watauga County athlete Shannon Quinlan has proudly donned her freshly washed, red Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Challenge T-shirt. Wednesday is the busiest day of the week for this 22 year-old who has been participating in the Special Olympics exercise and nutrition program, funded by NC GlaxoSmithKline Ribbon of Hope grant. “She’s a sport,” says Shannon’s mother Mary Jo Quinlan. “We walk four laps together at the mall in the morning then she goes to work, a couple hours later she heads to Zumba class. Shannon then heads back to work then has track practice after lunch, more work then she heads to bowling practice. Finally I see her at yoga in the evenings.”

About Megan O'Donnell:Love telling stories about Special Olympics athletes! Am so impressed with Shannon's dedication to living a healthy lifestyle! Thank you NC GlaxoSmithKline for helping us get athletes moving!
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Created by The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation for the Benefit of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities

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