Lions Clubs International Announces Historic Expansion of Partnership with Special Olympics

Increasing Funding, Member Activation and Programming to Benefit Those with Intellectual Disabilities Worldwide

HAMBURG, Germany, 8 July 2013 – Lions Clubs International Foundation is pledging $7.8 million to Special Olympics, expanding worldwide efforts to support the inclusion and well-being of people with intellectual disabilities.

Building on the organizations’ 14-year history of collaboration, this pledge is part of a new multi-year partnership plan that will strengthen ties between Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International at the country and the community level. The partnership is providing health services, engaging youth and encouraging family support to benefit the global population of individuals with intellectual disabilities. 

The announcement was made on stage during the 96th annual Lions Clubs International convention in Hamburg, Germany, by National Basketball Association athlete and Special Olympics Board Member Yao Ming, Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics Australia athlete Ben Haack, Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes Founder Dr. Paul Berman and Lion Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Chairperson Tam Wing-kun.

“Just five months ago at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Korea, Special Olympics convened world leaders for a Global Development Summit focused on ending the cycle of poverty and exclusion that people with intellectual disabilities face around the world.  Lions Clubs did more than participate in that gathering -- they committed to action,” shared Yao Ming. “With this remarkable commitment, they're putting the funding and strength of their global grassroots organization in direct service for one of the world's most marginalized populations.  There's no greater service organization than Lions, and the athletes, families, volunteers and fans of Special Olympics worldwide are proud to stand with their members in service to others."

Lions Clubs International has been supporting Special Olympics with a focus on health through the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes vision screening program. Now, this five-year renewal and increased support will create leadership opportunities for Special Olympics athletes, increase the health work of Special Olympics, conduct outreach to families for additional support and allow for both organizations to reach more young people through inclusive sports and advocacy programs in an effort to achieve full acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in their communities.

“Lions Clubs International is honored to serve as a global partner of Special Olympics,” said Chairperson Tam.  “For many years, we have worked side by side in the field of vision care for those with intellectual disabilities, and we are so excited to expand the scope of our collaboration to meet additional needs in our communities.  This expanded global partnership provides an opportunity or our Lions and Leo members to engage in new service opportunities like hearing health, family support, inclusive sports, membership development, and much more.”

As part of the partnership announcement, Lions Clubs International Foundation Chairperson Dr. Tam Wing-kun made Special Olympics Global Ambassador Yao Ming an honorary Lions Clubs member for his dedication to serving children throughout China