Aug. 9, 2011

Blue Cross Names 2011 Angel Award Winners

For their outstanding volunteer service on behalf of Louisiana's children, seven men and women from across the state have been named the 2011 winners of the Angel Award®, presented by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. The award includes a $20,000 grant for each honoree's chosen charity.

A committee of past recipients of the Angel Award, now in its 17th year, considered 142 nominations from throughout the state before selecting Janet Andrews of New Orleans, Lloyd Benson II of Baton Rouge, Carter Boyd of Shreveport, Deidra Decay of New Orleans, Derrick Tabb of New Orleans and Dana Taylor of Monroe. The winners will be honored at a presentation ceremony Nov. 14 at the LSU Lod Cook Alumni Center in Baton Rouge.

• As founder of New Orleans Dance Collective, Janet Andrews provides positive alternatives for youth during non-school hours. The program provides dance instruction and cultural activities for underprivileged New Orleans youth.

• Lloyd Benson II is founder of the David Paul Learning and Enrichment Center, Inc, a safe haven that incorporates tutoring and strategic problem-solving skills. He also founded Daddy's Home Care Day Care to place positive male figures in the lives of children 6 months to 3 years old. Through the Generation Joshua program young men aged 14-17 are challenged physically and mentally in the community to become servant leaders.

• A 17-year-old student, Carter Boyd is the founder of Be A Good Sport (BAGS), a charity that provides sporting equipment to underprivileged children. The program also aims to teach proper use of the equipment along with the importance of exercise to stay physically fit.

• Deidra Decay founded the Awesome Ladies of Distinction Mentoring Program for girls ages 2-17. Decay mentors young girls through community service, dance and service learning education.

• Derrick Tabb created the Roots of Music program to teach middle school-aged students music, discipline, and education through a marching band. The Roots of Music is the only city-wide program offering free, year-round music education and academic tutoring to 125 low-income students in New Orleans.

• Dana Taylor was instrumental in launching the BackPacks for Kids Program at the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana and still volunteers more than 100 hours per month. The program targets the more than 320 elementary school children in the Monroe area who suffer from chronic hunger.

"Making a difference in our communities requires time and money, and that's why the Blue Cross Foundation is pleased to recognize each of these volunteers with $20,000 grants through the Angel Award," said Christy Reeves, executive director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. "Through the Angel Award program, we're partnering with outstanding volunteers to support Louisiana communities and create a healthier state."

To date, 135 Angel Award honorees, from age 17 to 93, have come from all walks of life and have been selected based on their efforts to enhance a child's life – physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. What they have in common is an unselfish focus on improving the welfare of children in their communities. With the addition of these 2011 Angels, grants to their charitable organizations will total more than $1 million.

Also being recognized is Blue Cross employee Thomas Groves as the 2011 Blue Angel. A director in provider network development, Groves volunteers with Open Air Bike Repair, a community service that provides bicycle repairs to the less fortunate. Groves volunteers during his lunch hour and after-hours repairing bikes for children's Christmas presents, summer camps, and the Louisiana School for the Hearing and Visually Impaired, among others.

For more information on the Angel Award program, visit the Blue Cross website at www.bcbsla.com and click on About Blue > Company > Angel Award. There, visitors can research information on hundreds of past Angel Award nominees, finalists and overall winners by name, year of nomination or geographical location.

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is building a healthier Louisiana through community outreach and charitable giving. The Angel Award is one of two signature programs. The other, Smart Bodies, is an interactive education program to prevent childhood obesity. In addition, Blue Cross contributes nearly $2 million annually in financial aid to various non-profit organizations throughout the state that contribute to health, education and the overall quality of life in our communities. When we put dollars into Blue Cross communities, it makes Louisiana a better place for everyone. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is the oldest and largest Louisiana-based health insurance company. Blue Cross is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders—and governed by a local Board of Directors. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

The company provides group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to more than 1.4 million members. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana employs more than 1,900 Louisianians who are committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.

Learn more on the company's website at www.bcbsla.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bluecrossla. Follow Blue Cross on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BCBSLA and CEO Mike Reitz at www.twitter.com/MikeReitzCEO.