Volunteers work together to build a one-of-kind, multigenerational playground at the Las Casas apartment complex in Coachella, Calif, on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012.
The swing of the first golf club may be a few weeks away, but the 2013 Humana Challenge is already teed up and off to an impressive start.
More than 100 people attended Humana Challenge media day on Dec. 5 at the tournament site in La Quinta, Calif. “We’re thrilled by the enthusiasm the Humana Challenge has generated,” said Humana Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications Tom Noland. “Everyone at Humana is looking forward to the opportunity to work with our partners to share Humana’s message of participatory well-being.”
Golf great Phil Mickelson announced he’ll return for a second consecutive year to the PGA TOUR event, which starts January 17 and is co-sponsored by Humana and the William J. Clinton Foundation. Mickelson’s 2012 Ryder Cup teammate Brandt Snedeker, currently ranked number nine in the world, will also compete, as will last year’s Humana Challenge champion Mark Wilson.
“Having Phil, Brandt and Mark on board already bodes well for the strength of our field again this year and provides further proof of the appeal of the event,” said Humana Challenge executive director and CEO Bob Marra.
“I’m honored to be the champion last year and to be back,” Wilson told the crowd. He shared the story of a local friend who attended last year’s tournament. “He took it upon himself after that tournament to walk 3,000 steps a day. And he’s lost 70 pounds (and)… feels like he’s in the best shape of his life.” Wilson said his friend “really credits the Humana Challenge and what they did last year in improving awareness of the importance of exercise.”
This story is one of many examples of how the Humana Challenge is about much more than golf. At the 2012 tournament, Humana gave out pedometers with the promise that if spectators and visitors would log enough steps during the event, The Humana Foundation would donate $500,000 to local charities. Participants met the challenge, and The Humana Foundation made the donation to the Family YMCA of the Desert and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley. That contribution paved the way for the Dec. 1 construction of a multigenerational playground in the Las Casas apartment complex in nearby Coachella, Calif.
As with previous playgrounds that Humana has sponsored with KaBOOM!, the playground has elements of a traditional playground for kids but also includes features designed for adults, such as exercise stations and a walking track.
Constructed by more than 200 volunteers in less than six hours, the playground effort wowed observers like Martha Jimenez, who serves on the board of the Family YMCA of the Desert. Jimenez told The Desert Sun newspaper, “So many people came out today and the impossible became possible.”
Las Casas is the first of two playgrounds Humana is helping construct in the area; the second will go up in January just before the opening of the Humana Challenge. Humana also provided funding for a new recreation facility at the San Felipe Community and Migrant Housing Complex in Oasis, Calif., earlier this year.
At the start of Humana Challenge week, the Clinton Foundation will host its second annual Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation conference, the anchor event for the Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI). Among the expected attendees at the conference and the tournament are Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett (who will perform) and former President Bill Clinton.
The Humana Challenge was named 2012 Sports Event of the Year by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.
Humana takes a balanced approach in its efforts to create a golf event that’s both fun for players and fans and also serves to promote lifelong well-being. Humana offers participants and spectators healthy food concessions, pedometers and a family fit area, among other features.
That balance is summarized in this quote from defending champion Wilson: “You’ve got to live well and enjoy life, but also be conscious of what is good for your performance.”