MERCY CARE NAMED PRESENTING SPONSOR FOR SPECIAL OLYMPICS ARIZONA’S RETURN TO ACTIVITIES INITIATIVE

PARTNERSHIP WILL PROVIDE EDUCATION AND SUPPLIES TO THE SOAZ COMMUNITY TO ENSURE SAFE RETURN TO SPORTS AND ACTIVITIES

President and CEO Jamie Heckerman announced today that Mercy Care, a proud 10-year sponsor of Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ), has extended its partnership and will be the Presenting Sponsor for SOAZ’s Return to Activities Initiative. Mercy Care will provide education and supplies to all members of the Special Olympics Arizona community in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure a safe return when in-person sports and activities can resume. This contribution and show of continued support allows athletes and their coaches to have greater access to education and resources that will benefit SOAZ for many years.

“Mercy Care has been a tremendous partner to work with over the last 10 years and they have been integral in the growth Special Olympics Arizona has experienced throughout that time,” Heckerman said. “This show of extra support comes at such a crucial time and truly proves how much they mean to us. We can’t wait to get the athletes back on the field soon and are confident that with the help of Mercy Care it will be a safe and smooth transition.”

Mercy Care’s partnership with SOAZ started with a $10,000 grant for the 2010-11 sports season and featured two disciplines and 200 free preventative health screenings. Since then, Mercy Care’s support has continued to grow, providing more than $200,000 in financial assistance, delivering more than 19,000 free health screenings, training more than 1,000 health professionals and students to educate and treat people with intellectual disabilities, and offering more than 3,400 employee volunteer hours.

Thanks to the great support of Mercy Care, SOAZ achieved Healthy Community status in 2016 and is now considered the leader in Healthy Athletes implementation, hosting trainings annually for clinical directors throughout North America.

While there have been improvements over the years, people with intellectual disabilities still face significant health issues, not because of their conditions but as a result of inadequate access to health services and education. Mercy Care’s annual partnership supports the Healthy Athletes Program, which has been the foundation of the Special Olympics Arizona Health Program strategic plan for the last decade.

“Mercy Care commends SOAZ’s efforts to keep athletes safe and healthy,” said Debbie Hillman, Mercy Care Chief Administrative Officer and DDD Health Plan Administrator. “We are proud of the role we played to develop the Healthy Athletes program and are committed to supporting the physical and emotional well-being of the athletes and coaches through the Return to Activities Initiative.”

Mercy Care is a not-for-profit health plan sponsored by Dignity Health and Ascension offering integrated care to children, adults and seniors eligible for AHCCCS benefits since 1985. Mercy Care has a broad, statewide network of providers who offer services and support for members with intellectual disabilities.

The purpose of Special Olympics Arizona is to empower children and adults with intellectual disabilities to live healthy, fulfilling and meaningful lives. This vision of acceptance and inclusion is realized through health, leadership and advocacy programs, as well as providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving more opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

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