Humana and the Silver Dollar City theme park honored fallen American heroes in Branson, Missouri, on Sunday.
News station KY3 reported on the event, saying, “During The Gold Star Family Remembrance Ceremony, names of fallen military members were read, taps and a special song were played, and special guests spoke. It was all to help family members of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice know they’re not alone and to show them that their loved ones service is appreciated.”
About 300 Gold Star family members, representing 59 fallen heroes, took part in the event.
A.J. spoke about Humana’s veterans hiring initiative and the importance of tapping into every available talent pool.
“One in 5 people have a disability in the United States,” he said. “Unemployment rates there are double compared to everyone else. We looked at it as an opportunity…but we said, okay, if we’re going to do that, let’s do it right. Let’s start melting away those biases that we know exist.”
And for a company like Humana, with millions of members, it’s important that America’s diversity be reflected in our associates.
“Each person in and of themselves is different,” A.J. said. “We’ve always had a philosophy of trying to meet our members where they are, whoever they are. One of the strategies for doing that is kind of being in a position to reflect the communities we serve in a literal sense.
“Everyone could relate to wanting to be included,” he added. “Everyone wants to matter. Everyone wants to be invited to lunch. Let’s lead with that.”
In what has become a Super Bowl tradition, the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team took on NFL alumni in a charity flag football game. The game took place on Feb. 6, 2016, in San Mateo, Calif., as part of Super Bowl 50 festivities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This is the eighth Wounded Warrior charity football game Humana has sponsored, and the fourth consecutive Super Bowl charity game.
The 13-0 Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team is composed of men and women who served in the United States military and suffered the loss of a limb in the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan. (The team is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project.) For the second year, Snoop Dogg made an appearance and played on the side of the wounded warriors.
NFL alum who played in the game included Dale Hellestrae (Cowboys), Dan Bunz (49ers), Dana Stubblefield (49ers), Bill Ring (49ers), Lorenzo O’Neal (Chargers and Raiders), Robert Smith (Vikings), and Dennis Brown (49ers). Rocky Bleier, decorated Vietnam veteran and four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, served as the honorary coach for the NFL team.
More than 25 Humana associates from the Northern California market volunteered at the game and helped make it a success. During the pre-game festivities, Retail Segment President Alan Wheatley presented the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team with a check for $370,000, which represents Humana’s overall contribution to the nonprofit.
“It was truly inspiring to attend the football game and see the men and women who gave so much for our country give it their all on the football field,” said Alan. “The theme of these charity football games ties in nicely with Humana’s efforts to hire veterans, which was expanded to include wounded warriors. To date, we’ve hired more than 2,600 veterans and/or military spouses.”
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team won the game 49 to 35, making them 14-0 against the NFL alumni.
Proceeds from the game will benefit the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team and various disabled veterans organizations in the Bay Area.
Earlier in the week, former Dallas Cowboy and three-time Super Bowl champion Chad Hennings served as Humana’s media spokesperson at the Super Bowl 50 Media Center located in San Francisco. Chad did more than a dozen live interviews talking with media outlets from across the country, including the popular Jim Rome Show.
Humana is once again sponsoring the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team game during Super Bowl week. This year’s game is taking place in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 12-3 p.m. at the College of San Mateo. The City of San Mateo has made this game their official Super Bowl 50 event. The game will see veterans who have lost limbs in Afghanistan or Iraq match up with more than 40 NFL alumni. Watch the video above, and click here for more information.
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team came out on top in a recent charity flag football played against former National Football League stars in Tampa, Florida, but the final score was not the primary focus for any of the athletes or spectators.
The game, sponsored by Humana, is the latest in a series played by the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team (WWAFT) to raise awareness and support for the nation’s veterans and their families. The team is comprised of injured veterans who, despite using prosthetic devices, are overcoming challenges to not only engage in everyday activities but are competing in athletic events against legendary athletes – and winning.
BJ Ganem, a 37-year-old Reedsburg, Wisconsin, resident, and a co-
captain of the WWAFT, said playing with the NFL stars is a dream come true. But, more importantly, he said he hopes the games inspire anyone facing a challenge in life and bring hope to the communities where the games are played.
“It’s a lot of fun, and to be able to say you held your own against NFL greats is uplifting and rewarding,” said Ganem, a former Marine who lost his lower left leg in a roadside bombing in November 2004 while serving in Iraq. “It’s good to get out there and mix it up and show not only what I can still do but what other guys and gals can still do – even when playing a game as intricate as football. I hope it’s inspirational to others even if they are facing challenges that may not be as severe. I hope it gives them a little bit of oomph to get out there and have fun and try to be more active and healthy.”
Ganem has experienced his own moments of inspiration as a member of the team.
“There is that ‘ah’ moment in every game, especially when you have new guys,” including some who have just received a prosthetic device, he said. “They are initially unsure of what they are capable of, and you can see a bit of trepidation, but then there is joy on their faces when they begin running routes and scoring touchdowns. You can see a change instantly. They did it. It’s an accomplishment… a feeling of YES!”
Ganem, who works for the nonprofit, Semper Fi Fund, and is the father of three, also recounted a moment that had a powerful personal impact following his first WWAFT game, which was held in Green Bay.
“My son’s high school invited me to speak about that game and all of the other stuff I’ve done,” he said. “It was rewarding to see the pride in my son’s eyes and to spread a little inspiration to a younger generation by showing that it takes a lot to kill the human spirit.”
For more information about the WWAFT and how to get involved or donate, please visit http://woundedwarrioramputeefootballteam.org/.
The game in Tampa was the third Wounded Warrior charity football game sponsored by Humana. Humana also presented a $100,000 donation to the WWAFT during pre-game ceremonies in Tampa.