United States Association of Blind Athletes and Anthem Foundation Remove Barriers, Inspire Physical Fitness for Blind and Visually Impaired People

Three hundred people from 13 agencies participating in USABA
Fitness Challenge

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is pleased to
announce a $230,880 grant from the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic
arm of Anthem, Inc to implement the National Fitness Challenge for the
fifth consecutive year. For the next nine months, USABA is partnering
with 13 agencies throughout the United States to provide 300 blind
and visually impaired youth and adults with opportunities to increase
their physical fitness levels and live healthier, more active lives.

“The Anthem Foundation continues to empower and inspire youth and adults
across the nation who are blind and visually impaired by supporting the
National Fitness Challenge,” said Mark Lucas, executive director of
USABA. “We are honored and excited to once again partner with the Anthem
Foundation to cultivate a healthier community.”

The goal of this program is to raise the physical activity levels of
each participant to the level recommended by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. This year’s program will integrate the use of
technology and social media to help the participants set goals, create
team environments and encourage leadership. USABA will provide each
participant with a Fitbit Flex 2, which provides a universal way to
measure many kinds of activities, calories burned and the number of
steps taken. Some of the activities included in this year’s challenge
include indoor rowing (outdoor if available), running, judo, yoga, couch
to 5k/half marathon programs and goalball – a team sport for blind and
visually impaired athletes.

Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in
regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy
levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological
health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately,
because of the numerous barriers and misconceptions about their
abilities, more than half of those who are blind and visually impaired
in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical
fitness routine.

“We are pleased to again partner with USABA to help break down barriers,
and leverage technology to help those with vision impairments enjoy the
physical and emotional benefits of exercise,” said Craig Samitt, MD,
chief clinical officer, Anthem, Inc. “Together, we want to ensure that
those with visual impairments are not denied the opportunity to lead an
active life and have the opportunity to avoid the health risks that come
from a sedentary lifestyle.”

The funds from the Anthem Foundation grant will provide a Fitbit Flex 2
wearable for every participant, fitness and nutrition instruction,
prizes for participants who excel, and technical and financial support
for everyone participating in the program.

The 13 agencies that are participating in the 2017 USABA-Anthem
Foundation National Fitness Challenge program include:

  • Atlanta – Georgia Blind Sports Association
  • Austin – Texas School for the Blind
  • Cincinnati – Cincinnati Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Cleveland –Cleveland Sight Center
  • Denver – WE Fit Wellness
  • Fort Wayne – Turnstone Center
  • Indianapolis – USABA Indianapolis
  • Knoxville – Club Vibes
  • Los Angeles – Junior Blind of America
  • Memphis – Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes
  • Sacramento – Sacramento Society for the Blind
  • San Francisco – Lighthouse for the Blind
  • St. Louis – National Federation for the Blind Missouri

About the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of
the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind
individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a
world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the
abilities of Americans who are legally blind. USABA’s mission: to
enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the
opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity.
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States Association of Blind Athletes

About the Anthem Foundation

The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and
through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes
the inherent commitment of Anthem, Inc. to enhance the health and
well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem, Inc.
and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its
funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative
solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy
Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets
specific disease states and medical conditions. These disease states and
medical conditions include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low
birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that
decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in
adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and
smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual
associate giving campaign and provides a 50 percent match of associates’
campaign pledges. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please


Courtney Patterson
Anthem Foundation
Leslie Porras