HSOC 2010: 5 Years Strong & It Only Gets Better

On April 3, 2010 Greater Hartford, CT stormed the 5th Annual Step Into Wellness & Health Expo: Hartford Step-Off Classic (HSOC). For the fifth consecutive year more than 2500 patrons attended the Bushnell Performing Arts Center to witness and participate in this family friendly community event, which focuses on fighting obesity and living a healthy lifestyle. The day combined rhythms and syncopated movement with a multitude of health and wellness providers, insurers, educators and community outreach services. College sorority and fraternity teams among the Divine Nine came from Pennsylvania up to Massachusetts to compete for prize money and 1st place trophies. The audience was also treated to exhibition performances by local area middle school, high school and collegiate step teams. Opening the show this year was The Nation Drill Squad & Drum Corps from New Haven, CT which captivated the audience with their rhythms and powerful sound setting the tone for this 5 Year Anniversary Celebratory Event.

The BSL Educational Foundation, Inc. and BSL Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. (Hartford, CT) sponsored the event along with the funding of its lead contributor for the past 5 years, The Connecticut Health Foundation. The CT Health Foundation, along with CIGNA, has been the lead sponsor since it’s the HSOC’s inception in 2006. That first event drew 1,500 patrons to the University of Hartford Sport Complex and for the past three years, the event has been sold out (3000 patrons) while being held at The Bushnell (www.bushnell.org). Although the event lost several past sponsors, due to the weak economy, the 2010 HSOC had the addition of four new sponsors – UCONN Health Center, Western Union, Price Chopper, and Target. The HSOC was blessed to have many of its returning corporate sponsors from 2009: Michael Janet Suisman CAF, Eastern Orthopedic Sports Medicine, Fairview Capital, Community Health Services, Inc., and the local CBS Broadcasting Station Hot 93.7 FM Radio. The “icing on the cake” for this year, was the sponsorship of NBC Connecticut. They broadcast PSA’s for the event the weeks leading up to the event and interviewed the VP of the Foundation, Dr. G. Duncan Harris, the day of the event, while Brothers from Sigma and Rho Nu Chapters stepped in exhibition on-air.
These sponsorships defrayed some of the cost of the event while ticket sales generated more than $25,000 to grow the endowment of the BSL Educational Foundation Inc. The Foundation annually awards more than $15,000 in scholarships to: graduating seniors, high school students to attend the Fraternity’s Eastern Region Leadership Development Institute, participants of the Bro. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest, and targets middle and high school students with its Project Alpha event.

Through the Health Expo, we look to inspire our guests to lead healthier lives through education, healthy eating, regular exercise and routine examinations. We gave guests an opportunity to visit twenty-five different health organizations and learn or experience ways in which they could personally improve their own health. Guests were able to get tips on how to live a healthier life from CIGNA, have their children ID’d thru the CT CHIP program, sickle cell screening thru Citizens for Quality Sickle Cell Care, AIDS prevention information through the Central Area Health Education Center, Inc., as well as many others – including the March of Dimes.

This year, we continued the “Health Passport: Free Give Away Program.” Upon entering the Health Expo each guest was given a “passport” that they were to use, “on their road to a healthier life.” To participate, each guest needed to visit five different health vendors and receive a star sticker from each. After collecting five stars, they were asked to put their passport into a “Passport Drop Box” to be entered in our free give-a-way. The prizes included five healthy living baskets donated and created by the BSL Educational Foundation, Inc. Drs. Kevin Collins, Liz Evans, Rochelle Collins, Lori Wilson, Biree Andermariam, Annette Wagner and Zaneta Brown addressed the crowd via several skits about healthy lifestyles and how improper dieting and obesity can result in diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, blindness and other ailments.

The winner for the top Fraternity team was the Phi Beta Sigma team from NJ. The Brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi (Philadelphia, PA) came in 2nd, beating out Iota Phi Theta (UCONN). The winner for the top Sorority team was Zeta Phi Beta from NJ, besting the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta (CT). Each team received a trophy and $2000. The community teams featured The Star Steppers (Washington Media School, Hartford), Southern CT State University, and the UCONN All-Stars. Each team received a $200 stipend for their team. In their 2nd Bushnell appearance, The Art Of Drill Drumline brought the house down with their multi-faceted drill squad.

The event was co-chaired by Bros. Elijah A. Oliver, Kareem K. Nulan, Shontae K. White and Steven King, Jr., Immediate Past President of the BSL Chapter, and sitting District Director for ONECA. The core members assisting were Bros. Avery Gaddis, Raymond Oliver, Brandon McGee, Charles Stokes, Clay Woods, Lee Brown, Montressor Upshaw, Eloka Ifudu, Mishone Donelson, Steven Hayes, Cortni Grange, Curtis Walker, Jr., Jerome Hill, Jr., Zee Santiago, and Eric Seals.

The HSOC committee is truly appreciative of the efforts of the Bushnell Performing Arts Center and Ms. Meghan Bianco, Rental Events Coordinator at the Bushnell who helped to make the event a success for the theatre and the community. On-air promotional efforts by NBC and Hot 93.7 in CT and 90.7 in MA and placement of highway and rooftop billboards in Hartford and Springfield helped to increase the awareness of the event.