Aug 26, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are partnering with the University of Michigan to help raise awareness about cancer survival and the importance of early detection from regular visits to the doctor.
Blue Cross has collaborated with U-M on many health initiatives in the past, but this recent effort will be a little different. The Blues and U-M are proud to announce the launching of The Michigan Football Experience Sweepstakes, a program focused on increasing awareness for men's health issues. The program begins in August and will culminate at the Wolverines' Nov. 30 home game against Ohio State.
Among the 10 prizes, one lucky winner will receive an all-expense paid trip for two to attend the Michigan Wolverines' next bowl game. Four additional winners will win The Michigan Men's Football Experience and another five winners will win the opportunity to attend The Michigan Women's Football Academy.
BCBSM and U-M hope this effort will bring increased awareness to the importance of men's health, especially prostate cancer and prevention and U-M's "Men of Michigan" Prostate Cancer Research Fund.
How a lifesaving operation launched The Michigan Men's Football Experience program.
In 2002, a University of Michigan doctor, James E. Montie, M.D., performed surgery on Dave Brandon, a former Michigan football player who was coached by Bo Schembechler. At the time, Dr. Montie was the chair of the U-M Department of Urology, and Dave was the CEO of Domino's Pizza, Inc. The surgery saved Dave's life, and he went on to serve as the U-M athletic director. Dave was so grateful to his doctor that he pledged to honor him by helping to support Dr. Montie's crucial research in the area of prostate cancer. The result was The Michigan Men's Football Experience, which continues to help raise funds for the "Men of Michigan" Prostate Cancer Research Fund year after year.
"I have been blessed that several men have made a significant, positive impact on my life," said Brandon. "First and foremost is my dad. Among many life lessons, he taught me to work hard and do everything I can to have a positive impact on the lives of others. I also owe great thanks to my high school coaches and my college coach -- the legendary Bo Schembechler. They taught me lessons about teamwork, preparation, competition, winning and playing by the rules. Another individual who has had a profound impact on my life is Dr. James Montie. Dr. Montie's skill as a doctor and surgeon cured me of prostate cancer and significantly extended my life. What better gift can one receive?"
Dave contacted U-M's football coach at the time, Lloyd Carr, about offering a program for people to experience exactly what it's like to be a member of the Michigan Wolverines football team; an exclusive event where participants literally suit up for two days and experience on-field training in the Big House. Coach Carr immediately embraced the idea, and The Michigan Men's Football Experience was born.
"I thought it would be special to offer others an opportunity to experience what it's like to play football at Michigan, while also raising funds to support the research and treatment of prostate cancer. Thanks to Lloyd Carr, The Michigan Men's Football Experience began, and I am proud of the way it continues to provide fun and enjoyment for men of all ages while also raising a lot of money for a very important cause. I am grateful to coach Brady Hoke and his staff, who do a tremendous job of making it a truly unique and memorable experience for all involved."
Now in its fifth year, The Michigan Men's Football Experience has gone on to become one of the most successful support programs for the University of Michigan Health System Prostate Cancer Research Program.
Today, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men and is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer. Through screening and early detection, most cases can be treated if found before the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
"Dave Brandon's story of survival and his creation of The Michigan Men's Football Experience to support Dr. Montie's research is an inspiration to all of us," said Dan Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. "We're proud to be a part of this very important cause that helps continue our commitment to improving men's health in Michigan by stressing the importance of prevention and early detection."
The Michigan Women's Football Academy can't be beat.
The Michigan Women's Football Academy, held annually since 1997, brings together female football fans to benefit the Patient and Family Services Program at the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center. Participants enjoy an action-packed day filled with learning the basics, coaching, on-field training, a scrimmage in Michigan Stadium, skill competitions and close camaraderie and support for all involved.
Each camp participant is also asked to raise funds for the cancer center. Each academy participant pays $100 to register and is asked to raise at least another $100 in donations for the center. Most women surpass the donation minimum. The academy participants have raised nearly $2 million over the past 12 years, with $80,000 raised in each of the past two years.
Register to win The Michigan Football Experience Sweepstakes presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network. For more information on men's health and prostate cancer, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.