Jim Farris, PT, PhD, chair of physical therapy at A.T. StillUniversity’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS), was honored with the 2018 Special Olympics’ Golisano Health Leadership Award. The award recognizes healthcare champions who are making significant contributions to equal access to health, fitness, and wellness for people with intellectual disabilities. It is the highest honor Special Olympics awards its health partners.
Dr. Farris has worked with Special Olympics Arizona since 2009, when he was invited to participate in the FUNfitness screening at the Arizona State Games. FUNfitness was developed in collaboration with the American Physical Therapy Association as part of Special Olympics’ healthy athletes program. Since then, Dr. Farris has organized annual FUNfitness events and was invited to be clinical director for the FUNfitness program in 2014. In 2016, he became the FUNfitness southwest regional director and now trains other FUNfitness clinical directors nationally. He also serves on Special Olympics Arizona’s Health Leadership Committee (HLC), comprised of nearly 40 health professionals who work to develop a cooperative of resources for athletes’ healthcare. Dr. Farris serves as chair of the HLC’s Fitness and Wellness Committee. This year, he led the health team that cared for athletes at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle. It was the first time a state has sent healthcare providers with their team to the national games. Dr. Farris volunteered his time to attend the event and created a unique experience for Arizona’s athletes.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be involved with Special Olympics Arizona and FUNfitness,” says Dr. Farris. “I’ve been able to include more than 200 ATSU physical therapy students in serving Special Olympics athletes, a unique educational opportunity.”
Amanda Metcalf, MPH, Special Olympics Arizona’s health programs manager, has worked with Dr. Farris closely during her time at the organization.
“I’ve been with Special Olympics Arizona for just over two years now, and Dr. Farris has been with me every step of the way,” she says.“When I first started and felt like I had no idea what I was doing, Dr. Farris stepped up and became a leader in the Health Leadership Committee, which serves as an advisory council for our health programming. Dr. Farris’ commitment to Special Olympics, both personally and professionally, made him a no-brainer for an award like this. We couldn’t do it without him!”
Congratulations to Dr. Farris!