Special Olympics New York awards Bona professor with highest honor for health professionals
ST. BONAVENTURE — Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman presented the Golisano Health Leadership Award to Dr. Claire Watson, St. Bonaventure assistant professor and founding director of the University’s Public Health, Health Science, and Master of Public Health programs on April 17.
The Golisano Health Leadership Award recognizes deserving individuals and organizations that make significant contributions to both Special Olympics Health Programs and the promotion of health care, wellness and fitness for people with intellectual disabilities.
Watson received the award during opening ceremonies of a Special Olympics New York Unified Basketball event held on campus. Following the competition, more than 150 athletes were able to receive free health screenings as part of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program that Watson volunteers her time to coordinate in Western New York.
“Claire has been a trailblazer for the Special Olympics movement in Western New York and across the state,” said Hengsterman. “With her leadership, we are able to offer the highest level of free health programming for our athletes while also training the next generation of medical professionals in providing quality care to people with intellectual disabilities.”
“I am so honored to accept this award. Special Olympics New York and St. Bonaventure University have done so much good for athletes, medical professionals, and the community. I share this award with everyone who has been a part of the movement. “
Watson has been involved with Special Olympics New York since 2014, when she first helped oversee the health promotion activities included in the St. Bonaventure event. She later became a clinical director for Special Olympics New York and provided services for athletes from across the country at the 2018 USA Games in Seattle.
Since that time, she has contributed to the training of close to 200 students and colleagues in the field, making a significant impact on the future of health care for people with intellectual disabilities. She has also represented the state at the American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry conference and is a member of the Special Olympics New York Health Advisory Council.