Rochester Dentist Now Eligible for Global Special Olympics Recognition

Friday, December 7, 2018

NEW YORK CITY, NY – Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman and Golisano Foundation Executive Director Ann Costello announced today that pediatric dentist and Special Olympics Clinical Director Dr. Abrahim Caroci will be the recipient of the 2018 Golisano Health Leadership Award for New York State — the highest regional honor for Special Olympics health partners.

He will receive the award at the Special Olympics New York Floor Hockey Winter Classic on Saturday, December 8th at the Jacob K. Javitz Center in New York City. The presentation will be a part of the Opening Ceremonies, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Dr. Caroci is one of only 109 individuals and organizations in the world to be honored this year with the Golisano Health Leadership Award. He is the second individual to be honored from New York State since the awards were established in 2016. Dr. Steve Sulkes received the Golisano Health Leadership Award in 2016 for New York State and also went on to receive the Golisano Global Health Leadership Award.

Beginning his work with Special Olympics Special Smiles in Arizona, Dr. Caroci then went on to be a part of a research delegation in two Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece and Los Angeles. Since moving to Rochester in 2013, he has become a Special Olympics Special Smiles Clinical Director, helping to coordinate projects locally and statewide. He is also a board member of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, which focuses on integrating the medical and dental fields to serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Dr. Caroci is always one of the first to step into a leadership role for our health initiatives, volunteering at several health screenings for Special Olympics New York competitions and participating in USA Games,” said Hengsterman. “He is known throughout our organization as a professional who takes the time to build rapport with our athletes and ensure they get the care they need. We are honored to have a dentist of Dr. Caroci’s stature and experience leading our Special Smiles and Healthy Athletes programs.”

“One of our chief missions at the Golisano Foundation is to improve access to inclusive health,” said Costello. “When it comes to inclusive dentistry, Dr. Caroci is a pioneer. He is deeply committed to treating and caring for underserved populations. From his residencies at A.T. Still in Arizona and Eastman Institute for Oral Health in NY, to his ongoing work for Special Olympics Special Smiles and in private practice, he understands the importance of oral health for medically fragile and complex care situations and brings innovative approaches that break through barriers to inclusive health. We are grateful for his dedication and are honored to work with him.”

“For healthcare professionals, it is said that ‘the secret in caring for the patient, is caring about the patient.’ Dr. Caroci has not only demonstrated that with his patients, but has embraced his work with Special Olympics with the same integrity, enthusiasm, passion and compassion,” said Dr. Steven Perlman, global clinical advisor and founder of Special Olympics Special Smiles. “The philanthropy of Tom Golisano has provided the vehicle for healthcare superstars like Abra to flourish, help create innovative programs, mentor students and provide health services to help our athletes lead healthier, happier, and more productive lives.”

“It all started while in dental school. I volunteered at the Special Olympics Special Smiles and never stopped,” said Dr. Caroci. “Special Olympics events allow current and future clinicians to meet athletes on ‘’their own turf’ as a person first, and not as a patient, and that makes a real impact. Today we work to provide the same experience for the new generation of clinicians. I am certain that such positive experiences will help to forge a strong relationship beyond the academic years and helping to meet our goal of inclusive health. Thank you to Special Olympics New York and the Golisano Foundation for this honor.”

The Golisano Health Leadership Awards were launched in 2016 to recognize individuals and organizations that are furthering the cause of Special Olympics and improving access to healthcare, fitness and wellness programs for people with intellectual disabilities. The awards are named for philanthropist and Paychex founder, Tom Golisano, who has donated more than $37 million to Special Olympics to expand its work in increasing global access to inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities, who needlessly suffer from health disparities because they are excluded from most health systems.

Having received the state award, Dr. Caroci is now a candidate for the global recognition from Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation at the Special Olympics Summer World Games in Abu Dhabi in March 2019.

Dr. Abrahim Caroci is a pediatric dentist committed to offering children and families high quality service and care for long lasting healthy smiles. He graduated from Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health at A.T. Still University and also received a certificate in Public Health. He completed a General Practice Residency (GPR) and Pediatric Dentistry Residency at the Strong Memorial Hospital/University of Rochester Eastman Institute for Oral Health. Dr. Caroci’s training included hospital dentistry, management of trauma, infections, sedation, dental treatment under general anesthesia and special needs patients. He also completed a one-year fellowship in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. This collaborative interdisciplinary training focused on improving the health of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and special health care needs.

Born in Brazil from an Italian father and Brazilian mother, Dr. Carcoi fell in love with pediatric dentistry while working alongside a volunteer dentist during a dental mission in the Amazon. At the time, he was completing a Masters degree working with malaria vectors and mosquitoes in the field of epidemiology and biomedical sciences. He continued his research and worked toward a Ph.D., spending four years as a Research Scholar at the University of Arizona and the University of California, Irvine. After this time, he decided to finally follow his true passion and changed career paths to pediatric dentistry.





About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving nearly 68,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with nearly 150 schools statewide to offer unified sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers.  Learn more at www.specialolympicsNY.org and #SpecialOlympicsNY.


About the Golisano Foundation
The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the nation devoted exclusively to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes. The foundation was founded in 1985 by Tom Golisano, entrepreneur, civic leader, philanthropist and the founder and Chairman of Paychex. Mr. Golisano’s philanthropy now exceeds $300 million. In addition to Mr. Golisano’s personal philanthropy, the Golisano Foundation awards about $2 million annually to non-profit organizations serving people with intellectual disabilities in Western NY and New York’s Finger Lakes Region and Southwest Florida. GolisanoFoundation.org.



Robyn Armando, Vice President Marketing & Communications, (518) 588-3459, rarmando@nyso.org