WellPoint Foundation Awards $150,000 to Disabled Sports USA to Help Severely Wounded Military Rebuild Their Lives Through Sports

INDIANAPOLIS and ROCKVILLE, Md., June 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 300 wounded military service members in 11 states will benefit from rehabilitation programs in sports and recreation through a one year, $150,000 grant from the WellPoint Foundation to Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA). The grant will support DSUSA's military sports rehabilitation program, including the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project (WWDSP), which provides year-round sports programs free of cost to injured service members and their families with individualized adaptive instruction, as well as competitive and recreational events.

Severely wounded participants in DSUSA's sports rehabilitation programs include service members with single and multiple amputations, spinal cord injury, visual impairment, traumatic brain injury and significant nerve and/or muscle damage. The goal of the grant is to help these wounded service members achieve healthy lifestyles and sustain the activity levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are very happy to receive this generous grant from the WellPoint Foundation to help our chapters continue their efforts to provide rehabilitation through sports to our injured military," said Kirk Bauer, executive director of DSUSA and a disabled Vietnam veteran. "Surveys have shown that individuals who participate in our sports and recreation programs are more likely to succeed in securing employment and lead productive and fulfilling lives."

"When someone becomes disabled, many things in their life change; however, that shouldn't stop them from enjoying a full and active life that includes sports and other activities," said Steve Martenet, president and general manager of WellPoint's Specialty Products, which includes dental, vision, life, disability, workers' compensation and voluntary products. "We are very committed to helping people with disabilities get back to health, back to work and back to life. And, we believe providing funds to support sports rehabilitation programs such as those offered by DSUSA is the right thing to do to aid those individuals who have given so much to this country."

The grant funds will help DSUSA chapters, which provide sports instruction to wounded warriors in communities in California, Connecticut, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio and Virginia as well as military medical centers in Maryland, Texas and California. More than 20 different winter and summer sports are offered by DSUSA, including skiing, snowboarding, golf, kayaking, rafting, cycling, rock climbing, scuba diving, fishing, surfing, sailing, and extreme sports activities.

"Our service men and women make great sacrifices defending our freedoms and liberties," said Lance Chrisman, executive director of the WellPoint Foundation. "It is an honor to work with DSUSA to help these heroes recover and return to enjoying the fun and health benefits of sports with their families."

The WellPoint Foundation grant to DSUSA is part of its continuing work to promote healthy, active lifestyles in communities across the country. Through its State Health Index – a state-by-state compilation of public health measures – and Healthy Generations program, the WellPoint Foundation works to identify the issues most in need of attention and then directs its charitable support and volunteer efforts toward improving health in those areas. Reducing cardiac mortality rates, eliminating unnecessary preterm births, increasing influenza vaccination rates, and addressing the long-term health threats posed by childhood obesity are major focus areas of the Foundation.

About Disabled Sports USA

A member of the United States Olympic Committee, Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization founded in 1967 by disabled Vietnam veterans that provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in sports. A national multi-sport, multi-disability organization serving more than 60,000 youth and adults annually, DSUSA offers programs in more than 30 different sports through its nationwide network of more than 100 community-based chapters operating in 37 states. The vision of Disabled Sports USA is that everyone, regardless of ability, has an equal opportunity to participate in sports and recreation in their communities. For schedules and additional information, visit www.dsusa.org.

About WellPoint Foundation

The WellPoint Foundation is the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of WellPoint, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that WellPoint, 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 WellPoint Foundation, please visit http://www.wellpointfoundation.org.

SOURCE WellPoint, Inc.