Abrahim Caroci, a pediatric dentist in Rochester, received the 2018 Golisano Health Leadership Award for New York state, the highest regional honor for Special Olympics health partners.
Caroci is one of 109 individuals and organizations in the world to be honored this year with the award. He is the second individual to be honored from New York since the awards were established in 2016.
Starting his work with Special Olympics Special Smiles in Arizona, Caroci went on to be a part of a research delegation in two Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and Los Angeles. He became a Special Olympics Special Smiles clinical director after moving to Rochester in 2013, helping to coordinate projects locally and statewide.
“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 Stacey Hengsterman, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York. “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.”
Caroci is 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.
“One of our chief missions at the Golisano Foundation is to improve access to inclusive health,” said Ann Costello, executive director. “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 New York, 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.”
Steven Perlman, global clinical adviser and founder of Special Olympics Special Smiles, stated, “For health care 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.”
“It all started while in dental school,” Caroci said. “I volunteered at the Special Olympics Special Smiles and never stopped. 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.”
Having received the state award, Caroci is a candidate for the global recognition from Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation at the Special Olympics Summer World Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in March 2019.