Executive Rappels Down St. Petersburg’s Tallest Building to Support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) announced today that the WellCare Community Foundation donated $5,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay to support the organization’s second annual Over the Edge fundraiser held April 30 in downtown St. Petersburg. The fundraiser assists in realizing the organization’s mission to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring professional mentors to help put them on a path to success.

“WellCare is committed to supporting community-based organizations that fill important social service gaps because much of what affects a person’s health happens outside the doctor’s office,” said Blair Todt, WellCare’s chief legal and administrative officer, and president of the WellCare Community Foundation. “We are proud to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bayand the work they do to help children succeed.”

Mentoring is linked to higher educational attainment, better behaviors and personal development growth, according to theMentoring Effect, a report by the National Mentoring Partnership. Yet, the report found that approximately one in three young people do not have mentors, a rate that is even higher for at-risk youth.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay is part of the nation’s largest donor and volunteer-supported mentoring network and pairs youth, or “Littles,” with screened volunteer mentors, or “Bigs,” and monitors these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their time in the program.

In 2015, nearly 3,000 children were paired with mentors in Hillsborough, Citrus, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hernando and Sumtercounties. In 2015, the organization reported that 97 percent of the children in the program were promoted to the next grade level, and 99 percent stayed out of the juvenile justice system.

Pamme Lyons-Taylor, WellCare’s vice president of advocacy and community-based programming, sits on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. She and her husband Joel both participated in Over the Edge, which features individuals who raise more than $1,250 rappelling down Priatek Plaza, the tallest building in St. Petersburg. The fundraising target is significant as it equals the cost for a Big/Little to be matched for an entire year.

“I wanted to do something bold, to inspire my team to be bold,” said Lyons-Taylor, who didn’t hesitate at the top, but admitted there were a few tense moments on the way down.

“I kept saying, ‘I got this. The rigging is fine. I’m fine,’ ” she said. “It was very windy. I was bouncing everywhere and have bruises from hitting the building. But it was also very peaceful up so high and alone. It was a thrilling experience.”

And, along with the bruises, she now has bragging rights.

“The more you get to know Pamme, our board member from WellCare, the better you understand her commitment to children in need,” said Stephen Koch, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. “I am so impressed that both she and her husband rappelled down the side of the tallest building in St. Petersburg to support our mentoring programs. We really appreciate their spirit of adventure, and on behalf of the children we serve, thank them for their ‘whatever it takes’ attitude.”

“We also sincerely appreciate the $5,000 donation from the WellCare Community Foundation,” added Koch. “Our Over the Edge event would not be possible without this type of generous support.”

For information on how to become a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay go to www.bbbstampabay.org.

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