RALEIGH, N.C.   Today, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Million Step March (MSM) arrived in downtown Raleigh, where city and state leaders joined hundreds of other people on the statewide physical activity campaign. The Million Step March is almost halfway into its 600-mile walk designed to encourage healthy living.
The MSM is a walking initiative to promote the benefits of physical activity from the mountains to the coast. It kicked off in Asheville April 1 and MSM team members haven’t stopped walking since. The MSM team – led by BCBSNC Community Relations Vice President Kathy Higgins and MSM spokesman Gary Marino – has walked more than 240 miles since the campaign launched. 
“I have met hundreds of people along the way and heard so many moving personal stories,” said Marino.  “Like me, many of those folks struggle with weight and related health issues. But, now they know that by building 30 minutes of walking into their daily routine, they can live longer, healthier and happier lives." 
Thousands of North Carolinians have laced up their walking shoes and joined the march, both in person and online.  More than 2,900 people have logged more than 150 million steps at the walk’s interactive website, BetterHealthNC.com. In the campaign’s first month, Kathy and Gary have held eighteen educational demonstrations at nonprofit organizations, worksites and other public events.
“So far, the Million Step March has taken us from Asheville, down through the mountains to Charlotte and through the Triad,” Higgins said. “As we approach the halfway point on our march and continue on to the coast, we hope to inspire North Carolinians to start a healthy routine like walking, one step at a time.”
The 10-week campaign ends in Wilmington in mid-June. Following various physical activity and healthy eating demonstrations today, the MSM team led event attendees on a short walk up Fayetteville Street, flanked by Raleigh City Councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin; Marcus Plescia, section chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; representatives from the Carolina Hurricanes and dozens of attendees.
“Kathy and Gary are showing a remarkable personal commitment to getting North Carolinians to live healthier lifestyles; I’m pleased to join them and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in  bringing this message of physical activity to Raleigh,” said Baldwin.
Visitors to the campaign’s Web site can sign up to log their daily physical activity and can win prizes as part of the Million Step Challenge, follow the MSM team’s progress walking across the state and more. They also have the opportunity to determine which North Carolina nonprofit organization will receive a $75,000 contribution from BCBSNC to promote physical activity.
Join in the march! Visit BetterHealthNC.com for tips on how to make physical activity part of your routine and to share your story with North Carolinians who want to improve their overall health.
The Million Step March is coming to a city near you (dates to be announced):
• Greenville
• Fayetteville
• Wilmington
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to nearly 3.6 million members, including approximately 825,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 75 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at bcbsnc.com.
About Million Step March:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is stepping up its commitment to physical activity with its Million Step March. This new statewide wellness initiative focuses on promoting the benefits of simple, yet effective forms of physical activity like walking. The March begins in Asheville and ends in Wilmington.   It also includes an interactive web site which provides North Carolinians with opportunities to join the March online, and shows them how to make good health a habit, one step at a time. To step it up, visit BetterHealthNC.com.