Zetterberg. Larkin. Billingsley? You may have never heard of 11-year-old Kameron Billingsley, but for one moment his star shined bright on the blue line at Joe Louis Arena. Kameron, from Farmington Hills, Mich., stood next to Danny Dekeyser and the rest of the Red Wings’ starting lineup during the Jan. 14 national anthem. He even got to hang out inside the Red Wings’ locker room before the game. The incredible opportunity didn’t come without some rink-side butterflies for the young hockey player. “I was afraid I was going to fall, and I was really nervous, but it was very exciting,” Kameron said. Kameron’s dream of skating with a NHL team became a reality thanks to his mom, Keisha, who entered him into an online drawing sponsored by her employer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The Youth Hockey Skater of the Game program with the Detroit Red Wings is part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan #MIKidsCan initiative, a program that provides kids across Michigan resources, inspiration, tools and motivation to live a healthy lifestyle. Kameron was named the #MIKidsCan Youth Skater of the Game because of his commitment to living a healthy life, even at his young age. Kameron is a proud, four-sport athlete and inspires the rest of his family to get on their feet, too. This kind of initiative is something the #MIKidsCan program hopes to inspire in all Michigan children. “We’re a very active family, so I knew Kameron would enjoy the opportunity if he won,” Keisha said. “They treated him like a little celebrity—it was really something to have that experience with my son. I was very proud how he did out on the ice.” While the experience may be once in a lifetime, Kameron’s passion for sports and health is daily. And this is important for several reasons – children who lead a healthy lifestyle carry these habits into their adult life. The first steps start at home – Let’s Move! estimates “children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.” Research has also shown that kids who engage in enough exercise, like Kameron, have improved school attendance and better academic performance. #MIKidsCan is all about encouraging active lifestyles for sporty kids like Kameron and teaching healthy habits to children and families around the state. Blue Cross has an ongoing commitment to children’s health and the #MIKidsCan campaign focuses on encouraging kids to adopt healthy habits early in life that they will carry into adulthood. “A lot of kids don’t get to do this,” Kameron said. “It inspired me to stay healthy. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.” Over the last 10 years, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has provided more than $6.5 million to support kids’ health and wellness initiatives across the state and has impacted more than 230,000 children. For more information on the challenge and Blue Cross’ ongoing efforts to help improve childhood health, visit AHealthierMichigan.org/mikidscan or follow the #MIKidsCan hashtag on Twitter.
Photo credit: Ryan Scott 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 MIBluesPerspectives.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.