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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Salutes Six 'Angels'

DETROIT, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Six earthbound "angels" who have brightened the lives of Michigan children are being honored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The Caring for Children Angel Awards recognize good works done by Michigan residents to improve children's lives. The awards have been sponsored annually by the Michigan Blues since 1999.

All six Angels will be honored at a Friday, Nov. 9 reception and awards program at the Blues' Bricktown Auditorium in Detroit. A "Grand Angel" chosen from among the six will be announced at the event.

Awards include a $5,000 contribution to the Grand Angel's designated nonprofit organization, as well as a $1,000 grant to each of the five other Angels' organizations, including the under-age-17 "Littlest Angel" winner. In addition to the donations, all six Angels will receive engraved gifts.

Following are this year's six Angel Award recipients, selected by a panel of judges who are past Angel Award recipients from across Michigan:

-- Joseph J. Bronz III of Saginaw Township is founder of the Saginaw County Down syndrome support group "Never Say Never," helping children with the syndrome realize their full potential. Bronz also is a court-appointed special advocate for the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Saginaw County, specially trained to represent children in family court matters who are in foster care due to abuse or neglect.

-- Alice Hall Williams of Saginaw is pastor of the city's Trinity Lutheran Church. In 2006, she and several congregation members re-established the Trinity Center After-School Program, providing free activities for youth from the Houghton-Jones neighborhood three afternoons a week in the former church school. Up to 100 children take advantage of the program which includes free meals, sports, computer training, homework and reading assistance, health instruction and an emphasis on positive regard for others and self-discipline.

-- Southfield resident Dianne Martin is a Detroit Public Schools psychologist assigned to two schools for youths with multiple impairments and developmental delays. Since 2001, she has developed and coordinated The Wishing Well Program. Wishing Well is a grief and loss program based at Loving Elementary School for children and families who have lost a loved one either through death, military assignment or other circumstances.

-- The Rev. James L. Meyer of Detroit has worked with critically and terminally ill youth since 1971 as a chaplain at hospitals, and in 2000, founded the Chalfonte Foundation. Its focus is Chalfonte House, a home in Elk Rapids that Meyer has run for the last 15 years as a year-round haven for children and young adults. Chalfonte House hosts up to 24 guests for free weekend and week-long retreats, providing spiritual, psychological, recreational, financial and educational support for terminally ill and special needs children.

-- After his mother died from cancer in 2004, Michael Hockney of Macomb Township founded the Rosemary A. Hockney Memorial Foundation to help families living with cancer. The foundation provides respite to families dealing with the disease, such as tickets to a baseball or football game, and also provides financial aid ranging from meeting mortgage and utility payments to other expenses. The foundation also offers services ranging from volunteer teachers to tutor patients in hospitals, to scholarships for children who've beaten cancer.

-- This year's "Littlest Angel" is 17-year-old Ashley Wilk of Sterling Heights. In 2006 after a visit to Children's Hospital of Michigan's oncology department for her annual checkup after having lost a kidney to cancer at age 10 months, Wilk asked about the toys that had been in the waiting room when she was a young patient. When she was told they were eliminated because they could be a hazard to children with weak immune systems, she successfully began a school toy drive to provide new items children could enjoy at the hospital and take home, eliminating germ concerns. Following that success, she and her father, a Sterling Heights Police Department captain, expanded the program with a collection site at the police department.

The Angel Awards will be presented on Friday, Nov. 9 at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Bricktown Auditorium, 500 E. Lafayette Blvd. in Detroit. Rhonda Walker, WDIV-TV Local 4 news anchor, will emcee the program with Southfield High School student David Shepherd. The evening will include live entertainment.

The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the awards program at 6:30 p.m. The event is open to the public. There is no admission charge, but seating needs to be reserved by calling 800-733-BLUE (2583).

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.6 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. The company offers a broad variety of plans including: Traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield; Blue Preferred, Community Blue and Healthy Blue Incentives PPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue Living; Flexible Blue plans compatible with health savings accounts; Medicare Advantage; Part D Prescription Drug plans, and MyBlue products in the under-age-65 individual market. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
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