Gallagher Bassett (GB), the global risk and claims management provider, has announced a new initiative with the Special Olympics. The partnership with the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) will raise funds to support opportunities for Special Olympics athletes and volunteers around the world.
“You know, we’re pretty proud that we’ve sponsored Special Olympics,” said Jon Winsbury (pictured), GB’s global executive vice president who runs the firm’s international division and is based in Brisbane, Australia.
“Our involvement in this torch relay is pretty cool actually,” said Winsbury. “It’s the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics and it raises funds to support participation, engagement and recognition opportunities for Special Olympics’ athletes and volunteers.”
GB will integrate its Gentle Bear program - a partnership with the South Australia Police Department - into Torch Run activities. Donations of Gentle Bear teddy bears began in 2007 to help reduce post-traumatic stress related injuries in children. GB estimates that 18,000 children around the world have now received a Gentle Bear to help comfort them after a distressing experience.
“That’s another way Gallagher’s giving back to the community,” said Winsbury.
In early 2020, GB and Special Olympics announced their partnership to help scale Special Olympics sports around the world.
The multi-year partnership established GB as a Platinum Partner of Special Olympics International and official sponsor of Special Olympics sport and coach programming.
In Australia, the Special Olympics partnership has involved 7,500 athletes and a range of initiatives. The two organizations have worked together on the International Day of People with Disability and the Global Week of Inclusion, as well as on mentoring opportunities for Special Olympics athletes.
“On behalf of all athletes involved with Special Olympics, I’m thankful that Gallagher has given us the opportunity to collaborate and work together,” said Chris Bunton, the Australian gymnast and Special Olympian gold medallist. During his career Bunton, who has Down Syndrome, has also been a finalist in the NSW Sports Awards and the NSW Gymnastics Awards.
Corene Strauss, then CEO of Special Olympics Australia, was also appreciative of GB’s involvement.
“The Gallagher team has been fantastic in terms of supporting us with issues around our insurance and we really appreciate that and we are really proud to be associated with Gallagher,” she said.
Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. It was founded in 1968 in the United States and involves more than six million athletes, and their partners, and over one million volunteers in over 190 countries and territories worldwide.
Special Olympics began in Australia in 1976 and now has more than 7,000 participants. The organisation says there are more than 850,000 people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism in Australia.
One of the next major events on the Special Olympics calendar is the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida. The sports meet, scheduled for June, is expected to bring together 4,000 athletes, 10,000 volunteers and more than 100,000 spectators. The organizers have said it will be the biggest Special Olympics event ever held.
The Special Olympics World Games is scheduled to take place in Berlin, Germany in 2023.
The 2019 Special Olympics World Games were held in Abu Dhabi in the Arab Emirates. More than 100 Australian athletes competed across 11 sports: athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, sailing, swimming, and tennis, with the support of 35 volunteer officials.
The Australian team brought home 42 gold, 44 silver, and 55 bronze medals.