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Kids get an Opening Day all their own

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DETROIT, April 3, 2013 - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Detroit Tigers will make health, fitness and the fight against childhood obesity the focus of a special Kids Opening Day at Comerica Park on Sunday, April 7.


Nearly 200 kids, guided by the Tigers staff, will participate in exercise on the field before the Tigers' game against the New York Yankees.  The participants, ages 8-14, and their coaches represent Boys & Girls Clubs, Detroit PAL, YMCA and local youth baseball teams. All kids age 14 and under attending the game will receive a miniature Miguel Cabrera MVP bat and "cheer card" upon entry. Kids will throw out the first pitch, sing the national anthem and announce the starting lineups, among other activities.  


"Healthy lifestyle habits are formed early in life, and Blue Cross is committed to making sure kids know the benefits of eating right and exercising," said Andy Hetzel, vice president corporate communications for BCBSM. "This is a community-wide effort. Our partners, like Detroit PAL, Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA, are helping to reinforce healthy habits with our kids. We appreciate the Detroit Tigers for 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."
Youth participants will join in a number of on-field calisthenics exercises, led by trainers from the Detroit Tigers prior to the Tigers' 1:05 p.m. match up with the New York Yankees. PAWS, the Tigers' mascot, will also be part of the exercise routine. As their 'uniform' for the day, kids will be wearing shirts with the Detroit Tigers Kids' Opening Day logo, and have the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon at the ballpark, complete with a healthy lunch consisting of a chicken pita, pasta salad cup, baked chips, celery/carrots, and a bottle of water.


"The Detroit Tigers are proud to partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in support of an initiative that can have a positive impact on children within our communities," said Duane McLean, Tigers' Executive Vice President of Business Operations. "Collectively, we are sending an important message and raising awareness in the fight against child obesity."
BCBSM is committed to instilling healthy lifestyle behaviors in Michigan's youth through numerous programs encouraging kids to be active and make healthy choices. Since 2004, the Blues have invested $5.8 million to help get kids healthy and active, all working to prevent childhood obesity.  In 2009, BCBSM started an elementary school-based program, called Building Healthy Communities, impacting more than 35,000 children in 83 schools to learn to make healthier choices and be more physically active.


All three community partners are excited to bring a unique collaboration together to benefit kids in Michigan.  


"Our Boys & Girls Clubs members are counting down the minutes in anticipation of Kids Opening Day and I know that our kids will cherish their memories of this experience their entire lives," said Len Krichko, President and CEO for Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.  


"We are really grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Detroit Tigers for including Detroit PAL's young people in such an unforgettable experience," said Detroit PAL's CEO, Tim Richey. "This event is a great example of how organizations can collaborate and provide amazing opportunities for kids."


"The Y would like to thank BCBSM and the Detroit Tigers for this unique opportunity," said Reid Thebault, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit President and CEO.  "This is the chance of a lifetime for our kids and we're excited to be a part of it."  


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 sponsored by Kroger; and Kids Run the Bases by Aquafina.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a nonprofit corporation and independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit http://bcbsm.com and to learn more about BCBSM's efforts to make Michigan healthier, visit http://ahealthiermichigan.org

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan is a nonprofit youth development organization serving 18,000 youth annually at 11 Clubs located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties.  Boys & Girls Clubs represent a safe place where youth ages 6-18 (grades 1-12) can spend their after-school hours and be engaged in supervised, structured activities that keep them out of trouble and on the path toward a successful adulthood.  Clubs are open five days a week throughout the year.  For more information, please visit www.bgcsm.org.

Detroit PAL is a non-profit organization positively impacting the lives of nearly 10,000 children each year through athletic, academic 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 more than 1,300 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 1,400 kids playing baseball, softball and coach pitch this summer. For more information, visit www.detroitpal.org

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 include: 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 www.tigers.com.

About the YMCA: The Y is one of the nation's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  Throughout Metro Detroit, Y's engage more than 300,000 men, women and children - regardless of age, income or background - to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the region's health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  Anchored in communities throughout Metro Detroit, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.  For more information go to www.ymcadetroit.org or contact Chad Creekmore at (313) 223-2487.

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