Dr. Steve Perlman conducts a health screening for Special Olympics Spain athlete Leyre Buigues during the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Dr. Steve Perlman conducts a health screening for Special Olympics Spain athlete Leyre Buigues during the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

On Monday, the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services held an event with the theme “Family: A Gift that Makes a Difference.” As part of the event at the Massachusetts State House, the department commissioner presented the 2013 Allen Crocker M.D. Health Services Award to a dear friend of our family – the Special Olympics Movement – and a major general in our dignity revolution – Dr. Steve Perlman.

As I thought about the gifts that Steve has given to people with intellectual disabilities over the years and all over the world, it occurred to me that there is no more appropriate theme, but also that I can’t even begin to calculate the difference he has made. Steve is the founder of Special Olympics Special Smiles, the global screening program that has provided hundreds of thousands of free dental exams and related services to our athletes. He was also a major catalyst for the development of our overall health program.

It is hard to imagine the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program being the success it is without Steve’s tireless efforts. The numbers say a lot – Healthy Athletes has provided more than 1.4 million free health screenings and trained more than 100,000 health care workers to be more compassionate and knowledgeable about the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities. The individual stories of athletes say even more. Healthy Athletes has saved the lives of athletes with cancer and other diseases. It has relived the pain of athletes who needed root canals and other conditions that often plagued them for years. And, even when the issues are not life and death, it has helped athletes be more confident by correcting cosmetic dental problems and other issues that help them socially as well as medically.

I believe that the difference that each of us makes in the world is best measured not by what others say, or even by what we do – but by what we create. What Steve Perlman is creating is a legacy of caring, of social justice, of commitment to health and wellbeing. Those have been and continue to be Steve’s gifts to the Special Olympics Movement, and for them, I am eternally grateful.

12 thoughts on “Gifts that make a difference

  1. I comment whenever I especially enjoy a post on a website or if I have
    something to valuable to contribute to the discussion. Usually it’s caused by the passion
    communicated in the article I read. And on this post
    Gifts that make a difference | The World of Special Olympics.
    I was moved enough to write a thought ;-) I actually do have a few questions for you if you do not mind.
    Could it be just me or do a few of the comments appear as if they are left by brain dead people?
    :-P And, if you are posting on additional social sites, I
    would like to follow you. Could you make a list all
    of your communal sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter

  2. Everything is very open with a very clear description of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your website is extremely helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. I savor, lead to I discovered exactly what I used to
    be having a look for. You have ended my four day lengthy hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  4. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog loading?

    I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s
    the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to
    give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading your
    articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?
    Thanks a lot!

  6. Pingback: Special Smiles |

  7. Dr. Perlman is the GIFT! He is an inspiration to us all. Thank you, Steve, for allowing the rest of us to go along this wonderful ride with you……………

  8. Good for you Dr. Perlman! Many don’t realize how important these minimal health screenings are but it does make athletes feel more included and accepted and that is Special Olympics mission! So thank you Dr. Perlman for all you do!

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