Kaiser Permanente first began airing what was then its ground-breaking new Thrive campaign during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Then, as now, it focused on total health, demonstrating Kaiser Permanente’s long-held mission to improve both the health and well being of members—to help people “thrive.”
Kaiser Permanente has also been involved in the Olympics up close and personal, through participation by members, physicians, and employees.
Robert King, MD, one of the six original Permanente Medical Group founders, won a gold medal for high jumping at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.
Tom Waddell, MD, (1937-1987) was a decathlete in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and a physician at San Francisco General Hospital’s emergency department. He founded the 1982 “Gay Olympics” (later named the Gay Games after a challenge from the United States Olympic Committee). Dr. Waddell was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, and his struggle to improve the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients at Kaiser Permanente was a continuation of his “never give up” spirit.
An article in the Kaiser Permanente Reporter featured this employee story:
Joe Rios, chief engineer at our Richmond (Calif.) Medical Center, finally realized his dream. "I made the team — the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team." Although the United States didn't compete in the 1980 Olympics, trials were conducted for selection of competition teams. Joe competed in two forms of fencing- foil and sabre — and won medals in both. Each event began with 75 participants. Six were finally chosen for the team. Comments Joe, "I fenced in an 11-hour match to win the silver medal in foil and a 15-hour match to win the bronze medal in sabre. It was absolutely the most fantastic experience. Everything seemed to fall into place for me."
The United States had boycotted this Summer Olympic Games in Moscow as a protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In opening the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Shirley Craddick, a Kaiser Permanente registered dietitian, carried the Olympic torch for one kilometer as a representative of the Oregon Dietetic Association. Craddick was active with the Health Service Research Center's "Freedom From Fat" project.
The Olympic Games and Kaiser Permanente — carrying the flame for fitness and health.