Beyond the Card: Bringing the Community Together Through Health

Mark Elzy

| 4 min read

I’m a proud member of 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit. Our group’s goal is robust but remains quite simple in aim – we look to improve the quality of life among men in the African-American community through education, mentoring and health and wellness programs. As a chapter of the international organization 100 Black Men, the Detroit chapter recognizes the need to develop strong, vital and self-supporting communities in Michigan. Over the years, our chapter has grown, touching the lives of thousands of men across the region. Our efforts have been successful with many thanks to our important partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. In 2009, Blue Cross reached out to our organization in an effort to help reduce health disparities and find out how to best educate African American men in Detroit on important health issues. Since then, our partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has turned our chapter into a thriving association, which has led to us reaching goals we previously thought were impossible. Through the initiative, we’ve created some of our most valuable resources such as the Detroit Chapter’s health and wellness committee and our annual Man Up for Better Health! health fair. One of our most popular events, the annual health fair, includes a 5K to encourage African American men in the area to get active while stressing the importance of daily exercise on overall health. Studies have consistently shown African American men have higher risks of serious health issues and lower rates of preventive care than Caucasians. The Man Up for Better Health! fair has evolved greatly from its early days, now focusing on promoting physical activity through the 5K, but also providing free health screenings, health and wellness education and activities for the whole family. Input from our health and wellness committee, which include Blue Cross volunteers, along with key public forums, has helped us positively evolve our health goals through sharing current research, prevention and treatment education, and allowing us to have a dialogue with the community on issues that disproportionately affect African American men. In addition to basic health care awareness, the committee’s primary focus is on the education and proper treatment of disease, which causes premature death and disability for African American men. Since the inception of our Blue Cross partnership, we’ve provided through community education on various health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, and prostate disease. We want all of our event attendees and members to go home with a clear message: understanding the importance of having a relationship with a primary care physician. We stress the need to find a doctor you trust and visit not only when you have a health concern, but on an annual basis for health checkups. Men are traditionally less likely to go to the doctor, giving our group the ability to make tangible, positive change in Detroit. Blue Cross has brought value to the 100 Black Men of Detroit brand through the resources and expertise it directly provides, along with the access to health partners our group would have not collaborated with otherwise. Michiganders know Blue Cross as the largest health insurance provider in the state, and this positive reputation has brought our group connections that are essential to making a difference in the health of the community. One connection in particular that Blue Cross opened up for 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit was the Michigan Institute of Neurology. This introduction and a shared goal to influence men’s health in Michigan has led to a unique collaboration. Our chapter now attends Michigan Institute of Neurology events, offering our support and resources. Since our inception 18 years ago, 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit has made great strides in educating African American men on important health issues. But, we see our work as far from done. We’re looking forward to offering more health education opportunities to our members, positively influencing African American men in the Detroit area, while continuing to grow through our incredibly valuable Blue Cross partnership. Click here to learn more about 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit. This post is part of a storytelling series we call, “Beyond the Card.” These stories will feature Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, employees, and communities who are making meaningful differences throughout our state. We invite you to follow Beyond the Card stories here at and through the hashtag, #BeyondtheCard on our social channels. If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to contact us at
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