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Upstate Foundation campaign for Golisano Center for Special Needs surpasses $6.5 million

The Upstate Foundation has raised more than $6.5 million to benefit the Golisano Center for Special Needs.

The campaign kicked off in January 2020. Paychex founder and philanthropist Tom Golisano jumpstarted the campaign with a $3 million gift to establish the center in Fall 2019.

And the Central New York community has responded. Nearly 300 donors, comprising community members, corporations, other foundations and Upstate faculty and staff were among the contributors.

“Ultimately, the Golisano Center for Special Needs campaign raised more than $6.5 million in more than two years and when attention was on focused on a number critical needs that surfaced during the pandemic,” said Eileen Pezzi, vice president of development, Upstate Medical University. “Surpassing the goal in record time is a testament to the philanthropic spirit of our community and the enthusiastic support that is always demonstrated when it comes to the needs of children.”

Funds raised by the foundation are earmarked specifically to benefit the center in various ways.  The funds have been used to:

—hire eight additional professional staff to address the needs of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities;

—renovate of the new center’s home located at Madison-Irving Medical Center (The center has doubled in sized and its new rooms are equipped to serve children of all ages.);

—provide student scholarships for people interested in pursuing a master’s degree in behavior analysis studies to address the huge personnel gap in this area;

—fund research exploring the root genetic causes of disabling conditions and pioneering new ways to treat challenging behaviors;

—establish a Patient Assistance Fund that supports families with limited financial resources, such as expenses incurred by families who travel a distance to the center;

—support programs that inspire inclusion and community-building, especially promoting understanding and inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, enhance existing partnerships, foster collaborations and address unmet needs for children with co-morbidities. These efforts are being led by Professor Nienke Dosa, MD, MPH.

Henry Roane, PhD, director of the Golisano Center for Special Needs, applauded the community support. “On behalf of all the children and the families were serve, I want to thank the broader community for its unwavering support for this important program,” Roane said. “We are making a difference in all areas—from educating tomorrow’s practitioners, to researching these conditions, to building a more inclusive and accepting community, to our offering diagnostic services for our children.

“All our efforts are aimed at improving the lives of children with developmental or intellectual abilities, and this support is vital to our work,” Roane said,

The center, which opened in February 2021, provides comprehensive, coordinated and scientifically based medical and behavioral care for children and adolescents with many types of intellectual and developmental disabilities. The center acts as the umbrella, creating a framework to increase collaboration resulting in better patient care. It helps centralize programs and services available to this population.

Caption: Attending the check presentation are members of the campaign cabinet, from left, Henry Roane, PhD; Eileen Pezzi; Greg Conners, MD; Lou Pellegrino, MD and Nienke Dosa, MD .