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Udonis Haslem to Kick-off Read to Achieve Program

Dec 15 2004 4:31PM
Miami, Dec. 15 – With the support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF), the Miami HEAT will continue to promote the value of reading through their local Read to Achieve program. Miami HEAT forward Udonis Haslem and his mother, Debra Haslem, will read Dugald Steer’s children’s book Snappy Little Jungle to a group of children from Amigos For Kids, Thursday, December 16 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the Borders Books and Music in Pinecrest.

Derived from the National Basketball Association’s Read to Achieve program, this is the first of four Read to Achieve Miami HEAT/BCBSF events featuring HEAT players throughout the 2004-05 season. The Miami HEAT’s local program incorporates a combination of special monthly reading “time-outs,” book giveaways and the creation of designated reading locations to promote the importance of reading—most recently was the creation of a HEAT Reading and Learning Center in January 2004 at one of the three HEAT Academy locations, Dunbar Elementary.

“The HEAT Group is pleased to have Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida as a corporate partner," said HEAT President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth. "BCBSF’s partnership plays a major role in our overall continued dedication to our community, including the NBA and the HEAT’s Read to Achieve initiative, while promoting a lifelong love of reading to families and their children. BCBSF’s commitment is an extension of their dedication to supporting programs that stimulate an environment in which education, health, human services and cultural institutions can better meet the needs of the community. We are looking forward to a long and successful partnership."

As part of the event, BCBSF will announce a gift of $50,000 for Amigos for Kids. Amigos for Kids is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 to respond to the diverse needs of South Florida’s abused, abandoned, and neglected children. Amigos reaches thousands of children each year through education, abuse prevention and community involvement.

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is proud to support the Miami HEAT’s Read to Achieve program,” said Shelly Spivack, manager of government and public relations for BCBSF. “We have a unique role in advancing the health and well-being of Florida’s citizens, and can think of no better way to demonstrate our commitment to serving the public good. We invite individuals, businesses, schools and community organizations throughout Florida to join us in helping the HEAT promote the value of reading and encourage children and families to read together regularly.”

Borders Books and Music in Pinecrest is located at 9205 South Dixie Highway. For additional information call (305) 665.8800 or (786) 777.4141 or visit

The NBA’s Read to Achieve program is a year-round campaign to help young people develop a life-long love for reading and encourage adults to read regularly to children. Reaching an estimated 50 million children a year, Read to Achieve is the most extensive educational outreach initiative in the history of professional sports. In addition to being supported by all 30 NBA teams, 13 WNBA teams and the six National Basketball Development League (NBDL) teams, Read to Achieve is supported by the NBA's officials, parents and wives of players organizations, and the NBA Players Association and Retired Players Association.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) is a leader in Florida's health industry. BCBSF and its subsidiaries serve more than 6.5 million Floridians. Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the company has been dedicated since 1944 to meeting the diverse needs of all those it serves by offering an array of choices. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., BCBSF and its HMO subsidiary, Health Options, Inc., are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information concerning BCBSF, please see its Web site at