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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Detroit Tigers partner to give kids their own "Opening Day" to remember

DETROIT, March 25, 2014- On Sunday, April 6, the Detroit Tigers will take on the Baltimore Orioles, on what will be a kid-focused day at Comerica Park, thanks to a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Detroit Tigers. For the second year in a row, nearly 200 kids from four metro Detroit organizations, ages eight to 14, will join PAWS and the Tigers training staff for on-field exercises and activities, demonstrating the importance and ease of incorporating activity into everyday life. The kids will enjoy a healthy lunch as they watch the game. 

"We live in an age of video games, computers and busy schedules where traditional outdoor activities like baseball, soccer and basketball have taken a back seat to modern conveniences," said Andy Hetzel, BCBSM vice president, Corporate Communications. "It's becoming harder and harder to establish healthy behaviors at a young age, creating what has become a national epidemic. More and more kids are becoming overweight and obese, which can impact their physical health as well as their social and emotional health. Our efforts with the Tigers, Detroit PAL, Boys & Girls Clubs, HYPE Athletics and the YMCA signify our community-wide effort to reinforce healthy habits with our kids."

Youth participants from Detroit PAL, the Boys & Girls Clubs, HYPE Athletics and the YMCA will participate in a number of on-field callisthenic exercises, led by Paws and the Tigers' training staff. Backpacks filled with Tigers scorecards, BCBSM cheer cards, antibacterial wipes and Miguel Cabrera MVP posters will be given to participating youth from the local partnering organizations. The kids will also have official T-shirts featuring the kids opening day logo. Healthy lunches will be provided and will include a grilled chicken sandwich, celery or carrots, Baked Lays®, pasta salad, and bottled water. Upon entering Comerica Park, all fans will receive cheer cards with valuable information for kids and parents, about the importance of eating healthy and staying active.

Obesity remains a challenge in Michigan. According to the Michigan Department of
Community Health, 26.1 percent of Michigan youth are overweight or obese. Research shows that healthy habits are formed at an early age, which is why Blue Cross and Blue Care Network have invested more than $6 million in kids' health and wellness initiatives across the state over the past 10 years.

"Kids Opening Day sends a great message to our community's young people and it reinforces the outcomes Boys & Girls Clubs want our members to achieve: healthy lifestyles, academic success and good citizenship," said Len Krichko, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan. "We appreciate the Tigers setting aside a special day for kids at the start of the season, where we can work together to impact them in positive ways and leave them with a memory of a lifetime."
Detroit PAL CEO Tim Richey said the organization is grateful to once again be partnering with Blue Cross and the Tigers.

"We are extremely grateful that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Detroit Tigers have once again selected our kids to be a part of this incredible event," said Detroit PAL CEO Tim Richey.

"Through this partnership we are able to give kids unforgettable experiences that may otherwise not be available to them. It's important for kids to be given the tools and knowledge to make healthy choices. And this event is a great way to show kids that being healthy and active can also be a lot of fun."

Duane McLean, executive vice president of Business Operations for the Tigers, said that this partnership continues to bring awareness to childhood obesity, an issue that is affecting more and more kids every year.

"Creating awareness in the fight against child obesity is something the Detroit Tigers continue to take seriously. Championing this cause with our partners Blue Cross Blue Shield is a natural one for our organization given the common values our own players have maintaining a healthy lifestyle and physical fitness."

Justin Cessante, director of community relations for HYPE Athletics, said the partnership allows HYPE to positively impact thousands of youth in metro Detroit.

"Blue Cross has been sincere and genuine in its mission to service the community. Through a combined effort we're able to educate and promote healthy living while making it fun for everyone involved," he said. 

YMCA of Metro Detroit president and CEO, Reid Thebault also thanked the Tigers and Blue Cross for the opportunity.

"This is the chance of a lifetime for our kids and we're excited to be a part of it." 

In 2009, BCBSM launched Building Healthy Communities, a school-based program encouraging children to learn to make healthier choices and be more physically active. The program, which has grown into a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Fitness Foundation, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, University of Michigan and Wayne State University Center for School Health, has reached more than 83,000 students in 187 schools.

In addition to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan sponsored day, kids can also enjoy the following activities at Comerica Park on Sunday: free rides on the carousel and Ferris wheel and Kids Run the Bases sponsored by the Tigers Kids Club.

MDCH Childhood Obesity Facts
· 80% of youth did not consume adequate (five or more) servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
· 28% of youth drank at least one pop or soda a day, and males (32%) drank soda more often than females (23%).
· Youth participation in physical education classes on a daily basis was very limited (31%).
· Only 47% of youth were physically active for at least 60 minutes per day on five or more of the past seven days.
· On an average school day, approximately 30% of youth spent three or more hours watching television, while 23% of youth used computer or video games for three or more hours.
· Black youth had the highest prevalence of excessive television viewing (48%) and computer or video game use (28%).

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.4 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit and

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan's mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The Clubs are open during the school year to children ages 6-18 (grades 1-12), offering homework help, sports and other after-school activities in a safe, educational and fun environment. The organization provides daily programs and services to more than 14,000 kids at 10 locations in four counties. For information about Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, call (248) 473-1400 or visit

Detroit PAL is a nonprofit organization positively impacting the lives of nearly 11,000 children each year through athletic and leadership development programs. Detroit PAL empowers the community by training volunteer coaches and by creating safe places for kids to play. Each year, Detroit PAL teaches nearly 1,500 caring community members how to be encouraging and effective mentors. Detroit PAL has also renovated numerous parks and recreation centers across the city and intends to have 1,600 kids playing baseball, softball and coach pitch this summer. For more information, visit

The Detroit Tigers, Inc., a charter member of the American League in 1901, have won four World Series and 11 American League pennants. The team is owned by Michael Ilitch who purchased the ballclub in 1992. Michael and his wife, Marian, jointly own other companies in the food, sports and entertainment industries including: Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, Champion Foods, Uptown Entertainment and Ilitch Holdings, Inc. Marian Ilitch is the sole owner of MotorCity Casino Hotel. For more information, visit


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