Buffalo Bills and Independent Health Renew Partnership to Improve the Health and Well-Being of Western New Yorkers

Children from Panama Central School participated in a fun event with Bills players at New Era Field

Independent Health will continue to serve as the Official Health and Wellness Partner of the Buffalo Bills

Article Contributed by
Pegula Sports and Entertainment

The Buffalo Bills and Independent Health renewed their commitment today to team up and tackle the region’s health challenges and promote better health and well-being for Western New Yorkers.

Since 2014, the Buffalo Bills and Independent Health have partnered on several community-wide initiatives centered on fitness and nutrition to encourage healthy living. This includes the popular “Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge” as well as the “PLAY 60/Fitness for Kids Challenge,” which has been recognized by NFL leadership.

“We attribute a large part of our success with the Health & Wellness Challenge and PLAY 60/Fitness for Kids Challenge to our partnership with Independent Health,” said Buffalo Bills Owner and President Kim Pegula. “Together with Independent Health, our organization has built these programs to promote health and wellness in unique ways throughout our community. We’ve spread the word about healthy living to more than 30,000 Western New Yorkers and built one of the strongest PLAY 60 programs in the entire NFL.”

“The Buffalo Bills have done a tremendous job in their community impacting youth to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day through the PLAY 60 Challenge program,” said Anna Isaacson, SVP of Social Responsibility, NFL. “As a league, we are committed to building healthier generations of youth by empowering them and providing them with opportunities to live a heart healthy life.”

Today’s announcement renews the long-term partnership between the Bills and Independent Health for another five years.

“We are very pleased to renew our partnership with the Buffalo Bills so that we can continue making a positive impact on the health and wellness of Western New Yorkers,” said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO of Independent Health. “Our team at Independent Health is committed to collaborating with other organizations to engage our community in healthy behaviors, and to help provide people with the support and resources they need to live healthier. We’re thrilled the Bills share our vision and look forward to our continued teamwork.”

Here is an overview of some of the key initiatives the Bills and Independent Health have worked on together during the past five years and will continue to offer as part of their partnership:

Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge
More than 30,000 Western New Yorkers have participated in the “Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge.” The fun and engaging six-week program held twice a year – in the spring and fall – motivates people to get physically active and eat healthier.

Overall, nearly 9.3 million minutes of physical activity have been logged, and 3.6 million glasses of water and 2.2 million servings of fruits and vegetables have been consumed since the Health & Wellness Challenge began in the fall of 2014. As a result, many participants have been able to get healthy and stay healthy.

“When I started the Health & Wellness Challenge a couple years ago, I was much heavier and experienced a lot of back pain,” said Lawrence Wade of Cheektowaga. “I now exercise more, and my back is much stronger. This helps minimize the pain and allows me to be much more active overall. I lift weights, run on an elliptical machine, and walk several miles most days. The Challenge has helped to make it fun and motivating.”

James Majka of Niagara Falls has also benefited from the Health & Wellness Challenge.

“By participating in the Health & Wellness Challenge, I made a concerted effort to drink more water on a daily basis. I also found myself eating less and making better choices in my food selections, such as eating more fruits and vegetables. Plus, I started walking three miles a day. I lost about eight pounds without feeling like I was on a diet,” he shared.

The 11th Health and Wellness Challenge kicks off on October 21. All participants who meet daily fitness and nutritional goals, and complete healthy activities and challenges, will once again earn points and be eligible to win a variety of prizes. Visit buffalobills.com/challenge to learn more.

PLAY 60/Fitness for Kids Challenge
In 2014, the Bills and the Independent Health Foundation joined forces to offer year-round opportunities for Western New York elementary-school students to be more physically active and make good nutrition choices by participating in the PLAY 60/Fitness for Kids Challenge.

The PLAY 60 Challenge is a popular league-wide program that encourages 60 minutes of daily physical activity during the month of October. The Fitness for Kids Challenge was first launched by the Independent Health Foundation in 2008 as a way to teach kids how being physically active and eating healthy can be fun and easy. By combining efforts, these two programs challenge more than 10,000 students in grades K through 5 to implement healthy activities in the classroom and at home throughout the school year.

Students, classrooms and schools with the highest levels of participation from October 1 through May 31 earn prizes, such as $1,000 health and wellness grants, Bills autographed merchandise, and a full classroom trip to a Buffalo Bills game.

“By participating in the PLAY 60/Fitness for Kids Challenge, our school has been able to purchase and implement a number of great, innovative, and exciting things for our students to keep them motivated, fit, and excited to stay healthy,” said Loran Carter, Principal at Grover L. Priess Elementary in Eden. “Thanks to the health and wellness grants we’ve been awarded over the years, we’ve made several improvements to our school, such as remodeling our gymnasium floor, purchasing and installing a traverse wall, and implementing a functional fitness program. We couldn’t be happier to work with the Independent Health Foundation and Buffalo Bills. They truly support our students in the most positive ways!”

Additional information is available at fitnessforkidschallenge.com.

Healthy Options at New Era Field
The Independent Health Foundation has brought Healthy Options to the concession stands at New Era Field. Asian chicken noodle salad, smoked turkey wraps, fresh fruit, and grilled seasonal vegetables are among the healthier items being served at home games.

“Buffalo Bills fans once again have the option to eat healthier while cheering on the team this season,” said Carrie Meyer, Executive Director of the Independent Health Foundation. “We have worked closely with the Bills and Delaware North Sportservice to develop many of the healthy dishes that are available at concession stands. Fans can identify healthier alternatives by simply looking for the Healthy Options sticker on menu boards. Plus, a variety of healthy options can be ordered in the club and suite levels, too.”

For more information on Healthy Options, visit healthyoptionsbuffalo.com.

About Independent Health

Independent Health, a not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Buffalo, New York, serves nearly 350,000 members and provides innovative health care products and benefits designed to engage consumers in their health and well-being. Established in 1980, our comprehensive portfolio of progressive products includes HMO, POS, PPO and EPO products, Medicare and Medicaid plans, traditional indemnity insurance, individual and small group Exchange products, consumer-directed plans and health savings accounts, plus coverage for self-funded employers. Our subsidiaries and affiliate companies include pharmacy benefit management, specialty pharmacy and the Independent Health Foundation. The company has been recognized nationally for its award-winning customer service, dedication to quality health care and unmatched relationships with physicians and providers. To learn more, go to www.independenthealth.com.

About Pegula Sports & Entertainment

Pegula Sports & Entertainment (PSE) streamlines key business areas across all Pegula family-owned sports and entertainment properties including the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Americans, Rochester Knighthawks, LECOM Harborcenter, Black River Entertainment, ADPRO Sports, PicSix Creative agency and numerous hospitality properties. PSE aims to be a leader in the sports and entertainment industry by bringing together the individual resources, capabilities and talents of each of its entities to create a cohesive and sustainable brand that together represents the Pegula family’s interest. PSE’s mission is exemplified by its One Buffalo initiative, which unites Western New York and serves as a representation of teamwork through a deeper connection between Buffalo sports teams, fans and the community.

About NFL PLAY 60

NFL PLAY 60 is the League’s national youth health and wellness campaign to encourage kids to get physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Since PLAY 60 launched in 2007, the NFL has committed more than $352 million to youth health and fitness through PLAY 60 programming, grants and media time for public service announcements. The NFL and its clubs have supported programs in over 73,000 schools and constructed more than 265 youth fitness zones nationwide—giving more than 38 million children an opportunity to boost their physical activity levels. Visit NFL.com/PLAY60 for more information.