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(L-R): Renne Wyman with Heather Burke, Special Olympics Michigan's Sr. Director of Sports & Wellness

Special Olympics Michigan is honored to announce the selection of Renne Wyman of Sparta as the 2020-2021 Golisano Health Leadership Award honoree.

The Golisano Health Leadership Award was established in 2016, in partnership with Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation, and is given to an individual or organization that is dedicated to improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities and advancing the health work of Special Olympics. To date, the award has honored 14 individuals/organizations at the global level and many more at local events around the world.

“Renne Wyman is a true health champion for our athletes,” said Special Olympics President and CEO Tim Hileman. “Her dedication has not only improved the lives of her students, but the lives of the entire student body with Sparta High School making inclusivity a top priority.”

A 24-year teaching veteran, Wyman has been a true pioneer in creating more opportunities and awareness for individuals with intellectual disabilities at Sparta High School. From implementing health and wellness programs to holding weekly cooking classes, educating her students on personal hygiene and introducing Unified sports where students with and without intellectual disabilities compete together on the same teams, Wyman continues to lead by example when it comes to putting her students’ best interests first.

“Special Olympics’ inclusive health programs have drastically changed the way I teach,” said Wyman. “It changes the way these kids feel about themselves. Not only because they have a power to impact the way they look and feel, but they also have the chance to bond with other people.”

Renne Wyman is one of the select few individuals or organizations across the Special Olympics movement that will receive the Golisano Health Leadership Award in 2020. Up to seven honorees will then be selected to receive the global award to be presented at a Special Olympics global event in 2021.

Since 2012, philanthropist and Paychex Chairman Tom Golisano, and the Golisano Foundation, have committed $37 million to Special Olympics health program to increase access to inclusive health, fitness and wellness programs for people with intellectual disabilities in the communities in which they live.

People with intellectual disabilities are part of one of the largest and most medically underserved disability groups in the world. Millions with intellectual disabilities lack access to quality health care and experience dramatically higher rates of preventable disease, chronic pain and suffering, and premature death in every country around the world.

Special Olympics’ vision of its health program, made possible by the Golisano Foundation, is to create a world where people with intellectual disabilities have the same opportunities and access to quality health care as people without intellectual disabilities. For the past 20 years, Special Olympics has been working to identify and address the unmet health needs of people with intellectual disabilities and has revealed a myriad of complex barriers to health faced by this population. Barriers to this vision include lack of access to quality health care, education and resources.  

To address the barriers to accessing health services, resources and education, Special Olympics is identifying health needs and providing health education to Special Olympics athletes, focusing on follow-up care, engaging athletes and other people with intellectual disabilities in more ongoing health, wellness and fitness opportunities within their communities, and is investing in training health professionals and organizations to deliver these activities throughout the world and improve the health of people with intellectual disabilities.