Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan sponsors health screenings for Special Olympics athletes

Sponsorship part of Healthy Athletes® Program

September 22, 2011

DETROIT — More than 20,000 athletes participating in Special Olympics Michigan will get free health screenings and information on health, prevention and early detection of diseases through a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Special Olympics Michigan. BCBSM is the premier yearlong sponsor of the group’s Healthy Athletes Program. The partnership was announced September 10 at the Special Olympics Michigan 2011 State Cycling Finals event in Chelsea, Mich.

The health screenings include eye care, dental, hearing, foot care, general physical exams and fitness assessments. The Healthy Athletes Program also offers professional development training to health providers about treating patients with intellectual disabilities, as well as health education to coaches and parents of the athletes.

Bridget Hurd, director of Community Responsibility for BCBSM, presented a $25,000 check to Lois Arnold, president and CEO of Special Olympics Michigan on September 10.

“We are very excited to sponsor the Healthy Athletes Program because it aligns well with our commitment to support programs that encourage wellness, physical activity and healthy lifestyles,” said Hurd.

For many years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have joined with local Special Olympics programs across the United States to support athletes in their competitive endeavors in a variety of ways. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has continually worked with organizations like Special Olympics Michigan to build healthy, more inclusive communities.

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continued opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and their communities.

“We are thrilled to partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan who has been a leader in providing top-notch health care coverage in our state. We look forward to this year-long partnership and thank Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for their support of our 20,679 athletes from all across the state,” said Arnold.

Special Olympics started the Healthy Athletes Program in 1997. People with intellectual disabilities have a 40 percent higher risk than the general population for several preventable health conditions. Special Olympics has conducted more than 700,000 health screenings for athletes with intellectual disabilities worldwide.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to nearly 4.3 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. BCBSM also offers dental, vision and hearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.

About Special Olympics Michigan

Special Olympics Michigan Inc. provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for 20,679 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Athletes have continuous opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, and demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. SOMI is a non-profit organization supported almost entirely by corporate and individual gifts, and events, without support of state funds. The generosity of Michigan organizations, individuals and statewide businesses enable the program to continue.

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