Volunteers for Children Honored at Formal Ceremony on Oct. 19

Oct. 14, 2015

Your first bicycle is one to remember – the speed, the wind and even the tumbles. Dustin LaFont wanted to make each bicycle mean more than fond memories by encouraging young children to earn a bike through hard work. LaFont founded Front Yard Bikes to better the lives of Louisiana Children, which is why the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation considers him an Angel. LaFont joins eight other volunteers for children in this year’s class of Angel Award recipients.

On Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, Blue Cross Foundation will recognize nine angels from across Louisiana at an invitation-only gala at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel. Eight Angels will receive a $20,000 grant - and one Blue Angel, a Blue Cross employee, will receive a $5,000 grant - for their respective organizations. 

The following Angels will be recognized at the ceremony:

Elijah Benjamin Evans of Youngsville. Elijah Evans founded No Use for Abuse, an anti-child abuse program, in 2012.  No Use for Abuse educates the community about child abuse and ways to prevent this horrible tragedy from happening to children in the Youngsville/Lafayette area.

Dustin LaFont of Baton Rouge. Dustin LaFont founded Front Yard Bikes in Baton Rouge in 2010. Front Yard Bikes is a program that teaches young children to earn a bike through hard work and dedication.

Bivian “Sonny” Lee III of New Orleans. Sonny Lee founded Son of a Saint in 2011 in honor of his mother and late father, former New Orleans Saints cornerback Bivian Lee Jr. Son of a Saint is a New Orleans non-profit organization that provides mentorship, tutoring, community service opportunities, mental health treatment and other self-improvement activities for boys in need of a father figure’s influence.

Kristen Maddox of Denham Springs. Kristen Maddox founded A Door of Hope, a faith-based, non-profit organization in Denham Springs that helps its clients break the vicious cycle of life-controlling issues and
self-destructive behaviors such as abuse, addiction, eating disorders, depression, past abortions or self-harm.

L.J. “Joe” Rachal of Olla. Joe Rachal is a board member for the Centennial Cultural Center. The Center, a non-profit organization in Olla, works to nurture and promote culture and fine arts in LaSalle Parish, including the Center’s “Very Special Camp” program, an art camp designed for special needs children.

Kassi Robinson of Benton. Kassi Robinson founded Pay it Forward Networking in 2013. Pay it Forward Networking is an organization based in Bossier City that uses social media networking to grant wishes of children with special needs, disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.

Paula Taylor of Sulphur. Paula Taylor founded the Sulphur Christian Community Coalition in 2010. The Sulphur Christian Community Coalition is a non-profit organization that organizes volunteers to provide tutoring, GED classes, summer camps, enrichment programs, support groups and more to children of all ages in the community.

Elisha Wilson-Thomas of Tallulah. Elisha Wilson-Thomas founded Tallulah’s T.I.A.R.A. Girlz, a social club for girls ages 3 to 7, in 2009. T.I.A.R.A. – Teaching Independence, Autonomy, Respect and Allegiance – addresses teen pregnancy, drug abuse, extreme poverty and low graduation rates in Tallulah with education at an early age.

Tanja Foil of Baton Rouge. Tanja Foil has volunteered and supported Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge, a non-profit organization that provides resources for children with disabilities and their families, since 2011. Foil is recognized as this year’s Blue Angel for her efforts outside her daily work as an employee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. Her organization will receive a grant of $5,000.

“It is an honor to provide these Angels with the opportunity to empower and engage more children across our state,” said Michael Tipton, Foundation president. “In my experience, I know how much an award like this can mean to a person and the efforts they are so passionate about. The Foundation is honored to support these Angels for children.”

Monday night, LaFont will trade in his tool belt for a suit and tie to join these eight inspiring volunteers who will be honored for their tireless efforts for Louisiana’s children. For more information on this year’s Angel Awards, visit www.OurHomeLouisiana.com.

Media are encouraged to attend this special ceremony. Event details are as follows:

The Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel
7000 Bluebonnet Blvd.
Monday, Oct. 19, 2015
6 p.m. Photos and Media Interviews
6:30 p.m., Reception
7 p.m., Presentation Ceremony and Banquet

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is building a healthier Louisiana through community outreach and charitable giving. Its two signature programs are The Angel Award®, an annual statewide recognition program that awards funds to outstanding Louisianians working to improve the quality of life of the state's children, and Smart Bodies®, an interactive education program to prevent childhood obesity.

In addition, Blue Cross contributes nearly $2 million annually in financial aid to various nonprofit organizations throughout the state that contribute to health, education and the overall quality of life in our communities. When we put dollars into Blue Cross communities, it makes Louisiana a better place for everyone. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer. We are a private company, mutually owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We are an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to improving the health and lives of all Louisianians. With our subsidiaries, HMO Louisiana and Southern National Life, we provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to one out of four Louisiana residents. We’re the only Louisiana insurer that offers plans in every parish. We also provide every customer with comprehensive wellness education, programs and services to help them live healthier lives. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, we have eight regional offices to serve our customers around the state.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is dedicated to transforming the healthcare industry in Louisiana into one that delivers high-quality health outcomes for our customers with top-notch service at more affordable costs. Our reputation for exceptional service and prompt payments, as well as the hard work of our 200+ in-house doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and dietitians, keeps both customer and provider satisfaction high. Surveys by the Louisiana State Medical Society and the Louisiana Hospital Association consistently rank Blue Cross the best company providers do business with.

Blue Cross is deeply committed to the communities we serve. We invest both time and money in the health and wellbeing of Louisiana children by supporting more than 200 charitable organizations. We invite and encourage all Louisianians to visit our website or talk to us on social media through our online hub.