SIMSBURY, Conn., -- The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: HIG), the founding sponsor of U.S. Paralympics, today launched a national campaign to showcase the abilities of the U.S. Paralympic Team competing at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games from March 12-21 and recruit more fans of elite athletes with physical disabilities.
The Hartford's campaign kicks off with a new Website, (www.TheUSRocks.com) where Americans can send encouraging messages to U.S. Paralympic athletes.
"We congratulate the athletes who have been chosen to represent our country at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and we are honored to have helped them reach their dreams," said Robert Reiff, senior vice president of distribution, field service, association and product for The Hartford's Group Benefits Division. "The abilities of U.S. Paralympic athletes are amazing, and their achievements are inspiring. We hope all Americans will join us in wishing the entire team the best of luck in Vancouver."
The US Rocks website also features a clock counting down to the start of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, a Paralympic crossword challenge, and biographies and fun facts about U.S. Paralympic athletes competing in Vancouver, as well as details about their sports.
"We want everyone to experience the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games," Reiff said. "We hope Americans check our website daily after March 12 to get up to speed on the medal tally."
As part its campaign, more than 60 teams of The Hartford employees have "adopted" Paralympic athletes who are competing at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. Employees have expressed their heart-felt support for their "adopted" athlete through a good luck video and "care packages." The Hartford recently held send-off parties for one of its "adopted" athletes - U.S. Paralympian Augusto "Goose" Perez - at its offices in Simsbury, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y.
On Friday, March 12, The Hartford will hold an opening day celebration at its Simsbury office. The event will kick off at 11 a.m. with a flag-raising ceremony followed by a torch relay by employees on each floor of the four-floor building. The torch will handed off virtually to employees in offices throughout the country.
In addition, The Hartford is sending a group of employees to Vancouver to personally cheer on the U.S. team. "We can't wait to see first-hand our athletes competing against the best of the best from around the globe," said Reiff, who will be among the spectators at the Paralympic Winter Games. "You can also follow The Hartford on Twitter and Facebook for updates from Vancouver on Team USA."
Gold medalist Stephani Victor, who will be competing in alpine skiing in Vancouver, her third Paralympic Games, said The Hartford's support has been essential.
"The Hartford has been a vital part of my development as a Paralympian, and I am most grateful for all of the support," said Victor, who was named the USOC's 2009 Paralympic SportsWoman of the Year. "The Hartford's involvement has positively moved Paralympic sport forward in the U.S."
The Hartford has engaged its business partners in its campaign. The Hartford created a 2010 calendar, posters, note cards and postage stamps featuring stylized photos of U.S. Paralympic athletes. The calendar, posters and stationery are being given to The Hartford's employer clients and benefits professionals.
Also, callers who dial into The Hartford about their group disability insurance benefits and are placed on hold will hear a message inviting them to tune into the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
"The elite athletes of U.S. Paralympics are powerful, positive role models for our disability claimants. They are the true embodiment of our Ability Philosophy - that success is possible when you focus on abilities, not limitations," said Reiff. "We believe it's important for all Americans to support these incredible athletes as they represent our country on a world stage."
Last year, The Hartford received the Paralympic Amazing Investor Award from U.S. Paralympics, in recognition of its long-time support of disabled sports organizations and athletes.
"Our sponsorship of U.S. Paralympics would not be possible if not for employees' enthusiastic support," Reiff said. "We appreciate the time and effort that they've volunteered for our Paralympic events through the years."