Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined the crowd at Fenway Park prior to last night’s game against the Chicago White Sox to celebrate Boston Moves for Health, the city’s ambitious initiative to promote physical fitness and reduce obesity in Boston.  The Red Sox, a major partner in Boston Moves for Health, showed their support by highlighting the program throughout the game around the ballpark.  Fans had a chance to learn about Boston Moves and register on the spot.  The first hundred to do so received a free pedometer to track their steps.

Larry Lucchino, President and CEO of the Red Sox, and Andrew Dreyfus, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts used the occasion to announce a “Pedometer Challenge” between the two companies.  In conjunction with Boston Moves, leaders from the Red Sox and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will be taking part in a 3-week steps-based fitness challenge. The competition will begin on Monday, July 23rd and will run through Sunday, August 12th.  The average steps per team will be calculated each week based on reported steps by the participants.

“The Red Sox have really stepped up to the plate with their support for Boston Moves for Health,” Mayor Menino said.  “We’re grateful to have such a committed organization working with us to improve the health of our city, and I look forward to our continued partnership.  The Red Sox and Blue Cross are leading by example to promote the importance of physical activity in the workplace and in the community.”

Mayor Menino, along with Mr. Lucchino, Mr. Dreyfus, Barbara Ferrer, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, and Molly Brown, a Boston Moves for Health participant, greeted fans in a brief on-field ceremony before the start of the game.  Molly, a grant writer for a community-based nonprofit in the South End, won a contest to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Red Sox took the field against the White Sox.  The contest was open to Boston Moves participants that had logged at least three activities on www.BostonMovesForHealth.org.

“We’re happy to support the Mayor’s effort to promote healthy and active lifestyles for the citizens of Boston,” said Mr. Dreyfus.  “The Blue Cross team is looking forward to a little healthy competition with the Red Sox!”

“We’re excited to take part in another opportunity to raise awareness for the Mayor’s important Boston Moves for Health initiative, which encourages support for health and fitness,” said Mr. Lucchino.  “We’re already in the middle of a spirited competition among our Front Office staff, and we’re looking forward to seeing how our steps match up to those of our friends at Blue Cross Blue Shield.  We are definitely the underdog.”

Even Wally the Green Monster, the official mascot of the Red Sox, got into the spirit of the evening by wearing a Boston Moves for Health pin on his jersey and a pedometer.

Volunteers from the Boston Public Health Commission were on hand to register interested fans on www.BostonMovesForHealth.org and provide more information about the program at gates around the ballpark.  During the game, new ads for Boston Moves for Health were displayed on Fenway’s large video boards.  The signs encouraged fans to “Find Your Healthy Number” and “Measure Your Success” by signing up on the website, which allows users to create a personal profile, set individual fitness goals, log workout routines, receive fitness and nutrition tips, track their progress, and team up with friends for group activities.  The ads will also be seen around town on MBTA buses and at bus shelters.

Building on last night’s celebration with the Red Sox, the Boston Public Health Commission will film a public service announcement with a player from the team later this summer, as well as a training video with Red Sox strength and conditioning coach Pat Sandora.  The workout video will be geared toward youth and available this fall for the Boston Public Schools and Boston Centers for Youth & Families to use with their students and members. It will also be posted online for the general public to enjoy.

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