Beyond the Bike: How the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team is Making a Difference in the Community

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team has raced in multiple countries this season and has produced numerous podium-placing results along the way. Yet in spite of the second year pro continental team’s success on the bike and the demands of professional cycling, the gentlemen of Team UnitedHealthcare continue to make it a point to make a difference in the lives of young people. Finding time to consistently give back to those in need in the communities where they race while spreading a positive message about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and how cycling can play a part in that, is one to which the Team is dedicated.

As we turn the corner on the halfway point of the year, the Team has conducted more than 30 events with schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, hospitals, YMCA’s and youth centers in more than 20 cities across the United States. From Philadelphia to Las Vegas, Atlanta to Seattle, the men in blue and white are conducting events designed to inspire our nation’s young people or benefit the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF). In addition, the riders also donate prize money earned from select races (e.g., 2012 Air Force Cycling Classic) and host charity rides to raise additional funds for the Foundation.

While the Team shares messages about the importance and benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, it also ensures our next generation of recreational and professional cyclists are knowledgeable in cycling safety.  Helmet giveaways and bike safety clinics in St. Louis, Seattle and Anniston, Alabama, provide our riders with an opportunity to spend a few minutes talking about proper helmet fit and bike safety with young people.And oh yes, a few autographs and smiles to go with, are always a part of the process!

Making an Impact

Does it matter when professional athletes take time out to visit with children and share their stories, inspire them, and show them how they can live healthier lives? Does it make a difference when the boys from the pro peloton share ways to combat childhood obesity? You bet it does.

“It is extremely important to us to make sure we give back to the kids,” said General Manager and Team Director, Mike Tamayo. “The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation is the nonprofit organization we ride for and the Foundation helps families cover medical expenses their insurance provider may not. Having our professional athletes spend time with the kids and doing whatever we can to inspire them means a lot to them. We recognize we are in a fortunate position and it is our responsibility to give back to others.”

Nothing tells the story better than the pictures and stories that have been written to describe the effort. Here is a just a snapshot of where we’ve been and what we’re doing (and be sure to click on the links for TV coverage and more):

DENVER, COLORADO

Fresh off his overall win at the Tour de Beauce, Rory Sutherland took time out for an inspirational visit with the kids of Children’s Hospital Colorado (see pictures below). He also spoke with Susie Wargin of KUSA-9 in Denver, to talk about the serious subject of childhood obesity and what the Children’s Hospital Colorado/UnitedHealthcare program “Bikes for Life” is doing to combat it. The program will study the health benefits of cycling for young people and will distribute 1,000 bikes and helmets to kids across the state over three years.

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA

Before the 2012 US Air Force Classic began, the boys presented UHCCF recipient Reagan Breeden with a helmet, jersey, spent some one-on-one time with the Team and then surprised him with a bike. Days before, Reagan had given his bike away to another child in the neighborhood, so you can imagine the delight on his face! Reagan’s mom’s words touched our hearts and remind all of us how important it is to do our part to make the lives of others better:

“Where do I begin to share with you how grateful we are to you and your organization for all you have done for our son Reagan. The joyful and exciting day you all provided for him was just beyond believable. He has been on cloud 9 ever since. I personally can express the happiness you have given him. God Bless each of you as what a blessing you all have give to our family. Thank you so much.”

The Team donated its prize money from the Clarendon Cup (which Robert Förster won) to the Foundation and also raised additional money with a charity “Ride with the Pros” the evening before the weekend of racing in the Nation’s Capital started.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

Our guys are known for their ability to put the “metal to the pedal,” but they are equally charged when it comes to talking with kids in our nation’s schools. Prior to the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, Jay Thomson, Karl Menzies and Boy van Poppel, spent time with the 7th graders at the KIPP Philadelphia Charter School. The Team showed them how to eat and work out like a pro to build strength and endurance.

Sue Schick, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Pennsylvania, did an amazing job telling the story in her blog. Be sure to check it out!

GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA

Brad White is a strong man on the bike and is often found in the breakaway. He is also one of our chief ambassadors with the kids. Prior to the US Pro Road Championships, Brad met with the children at GHS in Greenville, South Carolina.  Greenville media did a wonderful job capturing the visit in photos, while Jason McCartney and Jeff Louder also spent time working with the kids on helmet and bike safety.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

The boys from Team UnitedHealthcare made a good showing at the 9th Annual Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium, taking first and third place in the race. But perhaps one of their most important showings of the weekend was Jake Keough’s and Jay Thomson’s positive presence at Charlotte, North Carolina’s Hemby Children’s Hospital. Click on the links and be sure to read how WCNC-36 and the Charlotte Weekly depicted the visit.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Events and Logistics Manager, Joe Coddington, is one of the key forces in making the events around the country happen. Our man Joe joined Robert Förster and Brad White at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA) at Scottish Rite. The trio visited “The Zone,” a sports themed activity area for the patients and their families. “The Zone” was initially funded Garth Brooks, Troy Aikman and the Teammates for Kids Foundation.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Health and fitness tips are key to winning the battle against childhood obesity. The Clarke brothers (Hilton and Jonny) along with trainer Bill Haelsen (photo at the top of this article) made a visit to the desert southwest to deliver the message. While there, they “powered up” the Las Vegas YMCA’s Power Kids and instructed them on ways to improve fitness.

BUILDING HEALTHIER LIVES IN 2012

We’re only halfway through the year and going strong in our effort to inspire those in need and help our nation’s kids get and stay fit.  Join us and help make a difference in someone’s life!

See you on the road and at the races!

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