Kennedy Krieger Wins Special Olympics Maryland's Golisano Leadership Award By Creating Young Athletes Screening Program

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BALTIMORE, February 22, 2023Kennedy Krieger Institute received the Golisano Health Leadership Award from Special Olympics Maryland at this year’s Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, a recognition of the Institute’s efforts in the past year to expand Special Olympics Maryland’s excellent Healthy Athletes program and to ensure its youngest athletes receive the healthcare they need.

“It was truly an honor to receive this award from Special Olympics and to be recognized for work that we consider essential to our mission and to our outreach efforts throughout the state,” said Dr. Brad Schlaggar, MD, PhD, president and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute. “This synergy between Kennedy Krieger and Special Olympics Maryland comes from a strong and long-lasting bond that will continue, ensuring that Special Olympics athletes, many of whom are students and patients served by Kennedy Krieger, live their best and most productive lives.”

In July 2022, a team of Kennedy Krieger clinicians, including a pediatrician, physiatrist and physical therapist, provided health and sports screenings to children ages 2 to 7 years at Takoma Park’s CentroNia. There were two purposes for these exams—first to ensure that these young children continue to receive all the healthcare they need, and second, to ensure they were ready to train and complete as Special Olympics Maryland athletes

Already through Special Olympics Maryland’s Healthy Athletes program, athletes ages 8 and older receive regular medical screenings. By expanding the program to younger children, Kennedy Krieger’s clinicians established protocols for screening athletes ages 2 to 7, which now can be replicated by other Special Olympics programs throughout the country. This pilot effort was supported by Special Olympics International.

In addition, last month Kennedy Krieger clinicians participated in MedFest at University of Maryland and provided medical screenings and physical exams to 226 Prince George’s County Public School students elementary to high school aged, who are also Special Olympics Maryland athletes.

“These two events were wonderful opportunities to expand our services in the community,” said Dr. Stacy Suskauer, MD, vice president of Pediatric Rehabilitation at Kennedy Krieger, and one of the clinicians who attended both events. “We so appreciated the chance to see these children outside of a hospital setting and to show them the ways they can be healthier in their daily lives.”

Every two years, Special Olympics Programs can recognize and nominate health partners for the Golisano Leadership Award. By receiving this award from Special Olympics Maryland, Kennedy Krieger Institute now becomes the organization’s nominee for the Global Golisano Leadership Award, which will be selected by Special Olympics International and presented at the 2023 World Games in Berlin.

“Special Olympics International allows each accredited program to honor one exceptional health partner with this award and we are so proud to recognize the extraordinary work of Kennedy Krieger Institute as the recipient this year. Their exceptional leadership team and awesome group of clinical directors are committed to fulfilling the goals, values, and mission of Special Olympics Health work,” said Jim Schmutz, president and CEO of Special Olympics Maryland. “This award reinforces the valuable impact that Kennedy Krieger is having with our Healthy Young Athletes program and our statewide efforts to enhance the health and well-being of our athletes.”


About Kennedy Krieger Institute:
Kennedy Krieger Institute, an internationally known nonprofit organization located in the greater Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region, transforms the lives of more than 27,000 individuals a year through inpatient and outpatient medical, behavioral health and wellness therapies; home and community services; school-based programs; training and education for professionals; and advocacy. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children, adolescents and adults with diseases, disorders and injuries that impact the nervous system, ranging from mild to severe, and those who are typically-developing. The Institute is home to a team of investigators who contribute to the understanding of how disorders develop, while at the same time pioneering new interventions and methods of early diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Visit for more information about Kennedy Krieger.   

About Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD):
Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) is a year-round sports organization dedicated to providing quality sports training and competition, health, and leadership opportunities to Maryland’s children and adults with intellectual disabilities and/or closely related development disabilities.  SOMD currently provides thousands of sports experiences annually for athletes statewide, and offers 27 sports, all at no cost to the athletes or their families.  For more information about SOMD visit or call 410-242-1515.

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