Cass City Elementary School; Bates Academy student win Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s #MIKidsCan Contest

Carly Getz

| 3 min read

Students at Cass City Elementary School in Cass City, Mich., will get a special visit this spring from Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford as the top prize for winning Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s 2014 #MIKidsCan Contest. Stafford’s visit will focus on healthy habits, educating students throughout the school on how to grow up to be strong, healthy adults. Additionally, Zharia Akeem, a seventh-grader from Bates Academy in Detroit, winner of the photo/essay category of the contest, will receive four tickets to attend the Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving game and autographed Detroit Lions gear. In partnership with Stafford, Blue Cross asked Michigan kids ages 7-14 to a create a two-minute video or submit a photo and short essay answering the question, “What’s your favorite way to get moving and be active?” Three finalists were chosen in each category and winners were decided by a public vote. More than 7,000 votes from across the state were cast online at Cass City Elementary’s winning video highlighted the many ways students and faculty get active throughout the school day, including group sports in gym class and dancing in the cafeteria. “I’m so happy our school won,” said Trent Patrick, a second grader at Cass City Elementary School. “Everyone is excited to meet Matthew Stafford. We can’t wait to see him when he visits our school this spring.” Zharia Akeem’s winning photo and essay focused on her favorite physical activity, basketball, and emphasized the importance of good sportsmanship and hard work over stature to remind others you don’t have to be the tallest kid in class to be a great basketball player. “I’m honored so many people voted for my photo and essay,” said Akeem. “I entered the contest to show that girls could be just as successful in sports and life as boys, so winning is a great, personal accomplishment for me.” Andrew Hetzel, vice president of corporate communications for Blue Cross, praised the winners for their hard work. “Teaching kids healthy habits is a community effort, and Blue Cross is proud our winners had such strong support from their schools, family and friends throughout the contest period.” The #MIKidsCan Contest is an extension of Blue Cross’ ongoing efforts to help Michigan families make good choices leading to healthier lives. With a focus on improving children’s health, over the last 10 years, Blue Cross has given more than $6 million in support of kids’ health and wellness initiatives across the state, reaching more than 100,000 children. For more information on the #MIKidsCan Contest and Blue Cross’ ongoing efforts to help improve childhood health, visit or follow #MIKidsCan on Twitter. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.4 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit and
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association