Picture of a family apple picking

The Truth About ‘An Apple A Day’

Does an apple a day REALLY keep the doctor away? A 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine was unable to show that eating an apple every day has any impact on the need to visit the doctor. But fear not apple lovers! Even though apples may not keep the doctor away, they do have a long list of health benefits, as documented online by the Harvard School of Public Health. And that’s great news since it’s apple picking season in upstate New York!

How do apples help us maintain health?

According to the Harvard School of Public Health,

  • Apples multitask as they are high in nutrients, versatile, easy to eat and good for us.
  • Apples lower our risk of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome, and help with brain function and memory.
  • They contain antioxidants, fiber and are a calorie bargain.
  • Apple picking is a fun, fresh air activity!

Adults need about two servings of fruit per day, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov. A medium apple is one serving of fruit.  Many apples are larger than that. That’s okay, but do keep in mind that moderation, portion control, and variety are important.

Therefore, don’t make apples the only fruit you eat.  Even though they are a powerhouse for nutrition, they don’t meet all of our nutritional needs. Variety in the diet helps to give us the variety of nutrients that are important.

How do you like them apples?

There are so many fun serving ideas or recipes involving apples.  Although apple pie is not quite the fruit delivery system I had in mind, a small piece occasionally can be enjoyed.

Apples are versatile at all meals and snacks, starting with breakfast on oatmeal or pancakes.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Add apples to a tossed salad or coleslaw.
  • Add to a winter squash soup or on a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich.
  • Have roasted apples and chicken or pork.
  • Make an apple crisp with whole wheat flour, oats and walnuts.
  • Limit apple juice or cider. You are better off to eat whole fruit and let your body turn it into juice.

The healthiest apple is one that you enjoy, whether it’s tart or sweet.  And they’re a great snack to have every day, even if they don’t really keep the doctor away!

Apple Salsa


  • 2 cups diced unpeeled apples
  • 1/2 cup diced green, yellow or red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup diced scallions
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 T minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation: Combine all ingredients, stirring well.

Serve with baked tortilla chips or roasted sweet potatoes, pork or chicken.

10 Pumpkin Patches To Visit in Upstate New York

Fall has arrived and you’re ready to hit the pumpkin patches. But which ones should you visit?

To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite pumpkin patches in these regions of upstate New York: Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Utica. Grab your kids, camera and in some cases your pet. Head over to the pumpkin patch to enjoy some fall family fun.

There are a lot more great pumpkin patches in upstate New York. If we missed your favorite one, add it to the comments section below!

For more, read Pumpkin Picking at Chase Farms in Fairport, NY.

Please follow COVID-19 precautions while enjoying your visit to the pumpkin patch . For more information, contact your local farm. 


1. Stokoe Farms

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 26 – Oct. 25.
  • Location: 656 South Rd, Scottsville, NY 14546

2. Wickham Farms

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. You must reserve online tickets to guarantee admission
  • Location: 1821 Fairport Nine Mile Point Rd, Penfield, NY 14526

3. Pick’N’Patch

  • Hours: Fall season is Sept. 1 – Oct. 31. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Location: 2205 Rts. 5 & 20, Stanley, NY 14561


1. The Great Pumpkin Farm

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to dusk every day, Sept. 19 through Nov. 1.
  • Location: 11199 Main Street, Clarence, NY 14031

2. Kelkenberg Farm of Clarence

  • Hours: Open starting Sept. 18 through Halloween. Visits are by reservation only.
  • Location: 9270 Wolcott Road, Clarence Center, NY 14032

3. Akron Acres

  • Hours: Open to the public on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Open on weekends through Columbus Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Private visits are available during the week by reservation.
  • Location: 12607 Stage Road, Akron, NY 14001


1. Tim’s Pumpkin Patch

  • Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the fall season.
  • Location: 2901 Rose Hill Rd, Marietta, NY 13110

2. The Pumpkin Hollow

  • Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Sept. 19 through Halloween.
  • Location:  3735 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse NY 13215


1. Pumpkin Junction

  • Hours: Open daily through Halloween from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Location: 2188 Graffenburg Road, Sauquoit, NY 13456

2. Cullen Pumpkin Farm

  • Hours: Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Sept. 7 through Oct. 31.
  • Location: 587 Cullen Road, Richfield Springs, NY 13439

Did we miss your favorite pumpkin patch? Add it to the comments section below!

Can’t get enough pumpkin? Check out  5 Pumpkin Breakfast Recipes for Fall

Picture of a peanut butter and fruit sandwich

The Sandwich Generation

We have been eating them as did our parents and we have made them for our children. They entered the world of American cuisine in the early 1900’s. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that is.

The ingredient list is short: peanut butter, jelly, and bread. The taste is like no other comfort food. It fits the bill of a food that multi-tasks, combining ease of preparation, convenience, simplicity, nutrition. Plus, they are economically delicious.

The Choices Are Endless

Taken to the next level, there are choices to be made.

Crunchy or smooth peanut butter, natural, low salt or reduced fat. Or hold the peanuts and go for the almond butter or another nut spread such as cashew, sunflower or soynut.

Jam, jelly, or low sugar.

Whole grain bread, multigrain, white wheat flour.

It may seem complicated now, but back to the drawing board or cutting board.

The PB

Peanut butter and other nut butters are a concentrated source of calories and fat. A serving of two tablespoons is about 190 calories and 16 grams of fat. This may make a dent in your calorie allotment, but is worth it for the protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals that come along with that investment.   Also, there appears to be a correlation of consuming nuts and a lower risk of heart disease and cancer.

Crunchy or smooth peanut butters are a personal preference. Consume natural peanut butter with little to no added fat and sugar. The reduced fat varieties tend to have the same caloric content as the regular if more sugar is added. That may negate the benefit of less fat. For variety, try other nut butters including almond, sunflower, cashew and soy.

The J

Jam is a combination of whole fruit, water and sugar that is cooked resulting in a thick, chunky spread. Jelly is made from juice and has a thinner consistency and is sweeter. Even though fruit is sweet and has natural sugars, sugar is added to make jam or jelly. They don’t contain fat but do have calories from carbohydrates. Consider a low sugar option.

Fruit butters, despite their name, are not made with butter but are spreadable. Therefore, the name includes butter. One of the best choices to top the peanut butter is fruit. Sliced apples, pears, raisins or bananas are all winners.

The Bread

Most breads are made from wheat flour but that doesn’t mean whole wheat. With the focus on getting more whole grains in our diet, look for breads that list “whole” grain as the first ingredient. Examples include whole wheat and whole oats. Bread may be made with multiple grains, but if they are not whole grains, put the loaf back on the shelf. Regular whole-wheat is made from red wheat and is darker in color with a different taste and texture.

For those who miss white bread, white whole wheat bread may be the answer since it is made with whole grains and has that familiar “white bread” feel and taste. White whole wheat is made from white wheat, is lacking bran color, and has a softer texture and milder flavor. For children or some adults that say they don’t like whole wheat, white whole wheat may be the answer.

How do you make your PB&J?

Share with us in the comments.

Picture of a bowl of yogurt with granola and fruit

Healthy Snacking As You Work From Home

For many people working from home, it is hard to resist the constant cravings to snack throughout the day. When you snack on the right foods, you tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day. You’ll feel fuller longer and be less likely to overeat or reach for unhealthy foods.

Healthy snacking can help you manage your weight too. Individuals who stay at a healthy weight reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and some forms of cancer.

Tips for Better Snacking

Rather than snacking on cookies or chips, try having a handful of raw almonds. Place a serving (about 23 almonds) into a snack size bag and leave it in a can’t-miss location in the kitchen, such as in front of the cabinet where the less-healthy snacks are kept.

Keep fresh fruit and vegetables front and center in the refrigerator so that it is the first thing you see when you open the door. Consider raw vegetables and fresh fruit as “nature’s fast food.”

Another healthy snack idea is to pair a small amount of cheese with whole grain crackers. The protein in the cheese will help to keep you feeling full longer.

When it comes to snacking, it’s also important to ask yourself “Am I really hungry or is this stress or boredom?”

More Snack Swaps

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following healthy snacking tips:

  • Try three cups of air-popped popcorn instead of oil-popped popcorn. You’ll consume 73 fewer calories.
  • Avoid the kinds of snacks you’d find in a vending machine (you may have them around the house as treats to include in school lunches). Instead, enjoy a yogurt. That’s 82 fewer calories compared to a package of six peanut butter crackers.
  • Substitute a sugary 12-ounce can of soda with a bottle of carbonated water for 136 fewer calories.
  • Instead of chocolate sandwich cookies or other sweet snacks, eat a bowl of berries or an apple or orange.

For more healthy eating tips, visit ExcellusBCBS.com/nutrition.

Blades of grass and sun

Keeping Your Cool While Working From Home

Working from home has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. For the first couple of weeks I was loving it. I liked the short commute, cooking lunch in the kitchen, and being home with my wife and dog. Eventually though, the new environment started dragging on me. I missed my workspace, having meetings face-to-face, and the impromptu touch-bases that occurred in the cafe and hallways.

After a month or so I began to feel that I had a proper, functioning home office. I had a new desk, dual monitors, speakers, and a headset. All was well until late May when we had our first 90+ temperature days. The heat came on fast, and it came with a vengeance.

See, my house was built in 1889 and has nothing close to central air conditioning. Over the past few years that we’ve been here we’ve managed with one a/c window-unit in our bedroom. Even on the weekends, we’re not typically home during the day so it suited us well.

Reviving “R2-D2”

One day, it suddenly became an issue. I specifically remember the first heat-blast. I was in my home office (which is on the other side of the house from our bedroom a/c), logging on to a video conference visibly sweating through my t-shirt and chugging water every 2 minutes. Needless to say, I didn’t feel or look all that professional.

That night I went into our basement and dragged up an ancient stand-alone a/c unit that my wife had used in college, which she had received from her grandmother. We’ve nicknamed this piece of equipment “R2-D2”. It is huge, it has wheels, and it connects to a window via a long plastic trunk-like tube. Despite its size and inconvenience, it’s not that strong and takes a while to cool down the room.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s also loud. It’s so loud. It’s on right now and it’s driving me crazy…

I learned quickly that I am unable to participate on a meeting while this thing is running. It’s that bad.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had to adapt. I run “R2-D2” when I’m not on a call, but there are huge swaths of time where I am unable to do so. During these times, I’ve had to develop alternative methods to keep myself cool.

Ventilation is key

I thankfully have two windows on opposite sides of my home office. By opening both windows and opening the door I can get a decent cross-breeze, which helps tremendously. If it’s really hot, I’ll place a fan in the living room pointed in the direction of my office. This (hypothetically) moves some of the sacred a/c air from our bedroom in the direction of my office. If you don’t have an a/c unit, multiple fans can be used to create a cross breeze too.


Drinking water can help keep you hydrated on hot summer days. Adults need roughly four to six glasses of water each day, and more when you’re sweating. Working from home has the benefit of being a few steps away from the kitchen sink. This has allowed me to step-up my water game. Rather than rely on a single water bottle during a long call, I’m able to mute myself and refill as many times as I want.

Keep it Casual

Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re confined to your typical work wardrobe. If it’s a hot day, socks and shoes are thrown aside, and I’ll be sitting there in my gym shorts. This is way more comfortable (and frankly convenient) than the typical business attire I was maintaining in those first few weeks of working from home.

More tips to help you keep cool:

  • Close window blinds or curtains during the day
  • Avoid using your oven, dishwasher, and dryer during the day because they can throw off excess heat into the house
  • Take a cold bath or shower
  • Open windows in the evening when the air is cooler
  • Drape a cool washcloth over your neck or wrists

While it continues to be an ongoing challenge, my current cooling methods get the job done. I keep reminding myself that this is a temporary problem. We won’t be working from home forever. Even if the current situation persists and I’m stuck in my home office for a while, we do live in upstate New York after all. I’ll encouragingly remind myself that “winter is coming.”


Picture of a plate with grilled chicken and grilled vegetables

Tips for a Healthier Cookout

When we think of summer grilling, we may automatically think of hot dogs and hamburgers. But there are healthier options that are perfect for the grill, and that your family and guests will find very tasty.

Simple Swaps Reduce Sodium

“Switch up your grilling routine to incorporate more fresh produce and lean protein,” said Patricia Salzer, RD, workplace wellness support coordinator at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. She recommended swapping out fatty meats for lean meats, poultry and fish.

“If you must have red meat, use fresh, rather than packaged, meats,” Pat advises. “If a food item keeps well in the fridge for days or weeks, it’s likely the sodium content is high. Sorry, hot dogs!”

Americans are eating 50 percent more sodium than they need, mostly from processed foods or food from restaurants. High sodium intake contributes to heart attack and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the United States.

A Healthier Cookout

“For a healthier cookout, make grilled veggies the highlight of your plate with a smaller portion of meat, fish or poultry,” suggests Salzer. “An easy way to do this is to use skewers, maximizing the produce and minimizing the meat you put on them.”

Grilled vegetables such as eggplant, asparagus, corn, avocados, jalapenos and romaine halves can replace the usual starchy side dishes at your cookout. Furthermore, instead of flavoring foods with high-fat dressings or salty seasonings and marinades, choose herbs and spices, vinegar and extra-virgin oils.

“Grill whole-wheat pizzas or bread to make crostini or grill bread, then rub a cut garlic clove into it and finish it with a rubbing of a tomato half,” says Salzer. “And for dessert, grill stone fruits such as peaches, apricots and nectarines, or try pineapple, figs, melon, and apples.”

For additional information on nutrition and a healthy diet, visit Excellusbcbs.com. Click on Health and Wellness along the top tool bar.

picture of grilled eggplant

Change Up That Grilling Menu!

Zucchini, potatoes, and even peaches are all amazing on that summertime grill. Sound strange to you lovers of hot dogs and hamburgers? Well, don’t knock it until you try it!

The garden and the grill have met, and newsflash – it’s delicious and good for you, too!

“Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke,” says Pat Salzer, RD, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield workplace wellness support coordinator. “It may even protect against certain types of cancers.”

Choose Wisely

The possibilities of adding fruits and vegetables into your diet – whether on the grill or not – are endless. One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, Pat said. Pat shared some helpful tips for choosing, storing and eating fruits and vegetables at their peak for optimal freshness and nutritional value.


  • Look for: Plump; fairly firm; golden yellow or golden orange.
  • Avoid: Pale or greenish yellow; bruised or shriveled.
  • Store: In the refrigerator up to three weeks.
  • Use: As a snack or add to cereal.


  • Look for: Firm, plump.
  • Avoid: If the container is stained.
  • Store: Eat within a few days of purchase, keep refrigerated.
  •  Use: On cereal or yogurt; in a smoothie or fruit salad; with angel food cake.


  • Look for: A plump bunch with grapes firmly attached to the stem.
  • Avoid: Those with a bleached look at the stem; soft or wrinkled grapes.
  • Store: In the refrigerator in a plastic bag.
  • Use: In chicken salad; wash and place in bowl in the refrigerator or freeze for a refreshing snack on a warm summer day.


  • Look for: Slightly soft stem end; sweet aroma; yellow or golden color.
  • Avoid: Green color; soft or sunken spots.
  • Store: On the counter for two or three days, then refrigerate in a plastic bag that is tightly sealed until you’re ready to cut. A ripening melon gives off gases that can spoil other produce.
  • Use: As a snack or in fruit, chicken or turkey salads; hollowed out as a bowl for fruit salad.


  • Look for: Waxy, cream-colored rind; stem should give to gentle pressure.
  • Avoid: If melon is too firm or too soft, green colored or has dark blemishes on the skin.
  • Store:  When uncut, keep on the counter top.  Once cut, keep it refrigerated. They don’t ripen once they are picked.
  • Use: As a snack or in fruit, chicken or turkey salads, or as fruit kabobs on small skewers with low-fat yogurt dip.


  • Look for: Heavy for its size; fragrant smelling; slightly soft at the blossom end. Thump; a low-pitched sound indicates a full, juicy interior.
  • Avoid: If it sloshes when shaken, it’s probably overripe.
  • Store: Uncut watermelon at room temperature for up to two weeks; when cut, refrigerate loosely wrapped.
  • Use: As a snack or in fruit, chicken or turkey salads; hollowed out as a bowl for fruit salad.


  • Look for: Creamy or yellow color; smell for slight aroma; slightly soft when handled gently.
  • Avoid: Green, extra-hard or bruised flesh.
  • Store: Ripen by placing in a brown paper bag at room temperature; check daily for ripeness and eat when ripe or refrigerate for three to five days.
  • Use: As a topping for cereal or frozen yogurt; grill with meat; use as a salsa with meat or low-tat tortilla chips. Great on the grill (recipe: Peach and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese).

Sweet peppers

  • Look for: Firm, bright, glossy red, yellow or green color.
  • Avoid: Wrinkled skin.
  • Store: Unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • Use: As a snack with low-fat dip or in salads; roast and add to sandwiches; stir fry; stuff with cooked brown or wild rice and bake.


  • Look for: Red or reddish orange with a sweet aroma; smooth, well-formed and firm, yet yields slightly to gentle pressure.  Tomatoes can also be yellow or green.
  • Avoid: Hard ones or with wrinkles, cracks, bruises or soft spots.
  • Store: Set in a bowl or ventilated paper bag to ripen, not on the window sill or in the refrigerator.
  • Use: Sliced or in sandwiches; in green or pasta salads; with sliced cucumbers, red onions, olives, feta cheese and low-fat dressing. Too many tomatoes? Make sauce!

Remember to rinse fruits and vegetables under cool running water just before eating. Use one cutting board for slicing fruits, vegetables and breads; another for raw meat, poultry and seafood.

Looking for a delicious summer recipe using fruits and vegetables?

Grilled Vegetable Salad

  • 8 ounces small whole mushrooms
  • 1 Vidalia onion, quartered
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 peppers (green, red, yellow or orange), seeded and quartered
  • 1 eggplant, sliced into ½ inch pieces
  1. Place these or any of your favorite vegetables on a grill rack with the grill on medium high heat.
  2. Grill until slightly blackened.
  3. Mix the following in a large bowl: tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon mustard and a dash of salt and pepper.  Add grilled vegetables and toss gently to coat.

Apple Salad

  • 2 cups apple (diced)
  • 1 cup celery (diced)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lite mayonnaise-type dressing (or mayonnaise)
  • 1/16 cup orange juice (1 Tablespoon)
  1. Mix orange juice with salad dressing or mayonnaise.
  2. Toss apples, celery, raisins and nuts with the dressing mixture.

Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture for dozens of other recipes including free access to how-to videos and online cookbooks.

Picture of a person sitting at a kitchen table working at a laptop.

Tips for Working From Home This Summer

Many employers have made it official: Their employees will be working from home this summer. Now that you know the plan for the next couple of months, here are some things to think about.

Take time off

Remember to use paid time off to enjoy time away from work. “You need to do this,” said Melissa Gardner, senior vice president at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “I encourage the folks on the team I lead to enjoy a long weekend or take a Wednesday off to break up the week.”

Set up your workspace

Maybe you’ve been making do with a corner of the kitchen table or the couch. With at least a couple of months ahead of you, it may be time to figure out if you have what you really need. Do you have a keyboard and mouse, a large enough monitor, a comfortable chair? Make your set up work for you.

Check out the video below for more tips on setting up an at-home workspace:

Get outside

Take advantage of being at home this summer. Work outside if you can or sit near an open window. Schedule breaks to sit in the sun for 5 minutes to get some Vitamin D.

Take a walk or run

Stretch your legs by walking or jogging around the neighborhood at lunch. Take a walk for meetings where you don’t need to be on screen. “Nobody will know if you are sweaty when you login to a meeting,” said Gardner.

Check out the video below for more tips on being physically active at home:

Assess your workday

Be mindful about taking breaks, stepping away from the computer and getting up to move about during the day. If you find this hard to do, schedule reminders on your phone or write a note by your computer that gets your attention.

Stop working

Set an end to your work day. Being home doesn’t mean you have to be on call 24/7.

Talk about what you need

Talk to your leader, colleagues, or anyone else to share what you are feeling and to find what is working for others. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you are handling your work/life balance.

Find replacements

If there are things you’ve been wishing to do once things open up, find a new way to do them now. “If the first thing you want to do is go out for a nice dinner, find a great restaurant that is offering takeout, set your table, light a candle and make it an experience now,” advises Gardner.

Stop apologizing

Stop worrying about your appearance when you’re on a video conference. Gardner reminds her team members that they are not alone in being unshaven, wearing glasses, not wearing makeup, or being on screen with a messy mop of hair. “Be comfortable with who you are and make no apologies,” she preaches.

Share what’s working for you

Let your colleagues know about your at-home success and failures and listen carefully to theirs.  “We’re all in this together,” said Gardner.

Picture of a woman lacing up her sneakers on a track

Virtual Races: Connect, Support, and Get Moving

As we take precautions and physically distance ourselves, people are finding new ways to stay connected, support their community, and get moving through virtual races and events. While traditional events that bring us together have been sidelined, virtual events allow runners, walkers and bikers to create their own course, often with their front steps as the starting point.

Kelsey Gratien, an avid runner from Erie County, is using virtual events to motivate herself and her family to get moving. “With traditional 5Ks cancelled for the foreseeable future, I’ve taken this opportunity to try some new things like running with my kids on their bikes and training for a fast mile,” said Kelsey. A long-time competitive runner, Kelsey is finding that virtual events still appeal to her competitive side. “I’ve done a couple virtual races of varying distances, and while certainly not the same, they’ve kept me motivated and appeased my competitive side for now,” she said.

Kelsey Gratien

Kelsey Gratien

More Freedom and Friendly Competition? Sign Me Up!

A virtual race is a race that you choose to complete wherever you like and at your own pace.

Benefits of virtual races include:

  • Freedom to run, walk, bike or climb when and where you wish. You’re also free to participate inside on a treadmill or stationary bike.
  • Complete when you’re ready. Unlike traditional races that are held on a set day, some virtual ones extend over periods of time like weeks or months.
  • Less social pressure that can come with a traditional race like worrying about times or where you are in the pack. You can feel more comfortable going at your own pace.
  • Friendly competition with family and friends near or far. A virtual race is a fun way to motivate and hold each other accountable when you can’t be together physically. For those looking for more than a friendly competition, many virtual events have websites where you can track your progress against others.
  • Anyone can join. A virtual race is perfect for all levels of runners, walkers or bikers. That makes virtual races a perfect activity for the whole family.
  • Support an important cause. Virtual races often benefit a charity or community organization.

Why We Need Movement, Especially Now

Movement is a critical part of wellbeing. Engaging in physical activity is a one of the most important ways to improve health. It has been shown to reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, positively impact most health conditions and help you get a good night’s sleep. In today’s world, many people are struggling to get enough physical activity, which can have an impact both physically and mentally. Remember, ‘motion is lotion’ to your joints, muscles….and even your brain, lungs, heart and gut!

“Participating in a walk or run actually improves your immune system. And getting others to walk or run with you, even virtually, spreads health to others,” said Brian Justice, D.C., a chiropractor and medical director at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Virtual Races in Upstate N.Y.

Ready to get started? Here are some upcoming or ongoing virtual events:

  • ROC Juneteenth – a 5K run/walk that supports the construction of Rochester’s Civil Rights Heritage Park.
    • When: now – June 19, 2020
  • Delaware Park 4th of July, Freedom Loop Challenge – Complete two or four loops of Delaware Park in support of the People Inc COVID-19 Relief Fund.
    • When: July 1 – July 5, 2020
  • Tour de Keuka* – a charity bike ride that benefits the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
    • When: now – July 18, 2020
  • Fight For Air Climb, Buffalo* – a stair climb that benefits the American Lung Association.
    • When: June 11 – July 11, 2020
  • The Daemen Dash – a 1-mile run/walk that is free to join.
    • When: July 9 – July 23, 2020
  • 2020 Boilermaker* – run/walk a 15K or 5K in support of the Boilermaker organization, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
    • When: September 1 – September 13, 2020
  • Tour de Cure, Rochester* – ride, run or walk and support the American Diabetes Association.
    • When: October 3, 2020
  • City Walks – virtual city walks available any time through Rally Health for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield members with Healthy Rewards.

Did we miss any virtual events? Please share more in the comments!

Note: If you choose to run, walk, or bike outside, please continue to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on protecting yourself and avoid large groups or running close to each other. If you have a chronic health condition, be sure to talk with your doctor about the types of physical activity that are right for you.

*Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is a sponsor of this event.

Black and white photos

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Culture and Change That Can Bring Us Together

Growing up in Rochester, Theo Adams always celebrated Juneteenth with family and friends. “There have always been different community organizations that put on events and I usually attend those,” he said. “A couple years ago, one of my fraternity organizations held our own celebration in the community. People came over for a big cook out, there was face painting, and different community activists spoke,” said Theo.

Picture of Theo Adams

Theo Adams

Theo, who is a children’s behavioral health quality program specialist at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield said that for him, Juneteenth has continually been a time to celebrate culture and change. “It’s been about exposing people to different aspects of the culture and celebrating how things have changed for the better,” Theo said.

Despite the historical significance of Juneteenth, Theo said it has been largely under-celebrated by most in the past. “I don’t think people felt the need to celebrate like other historically significant days like the fourth of July,” said Theo.

The History of Juneteenth

The celebration of Juneteenth commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth, which takes place every year on June 19, remembers the day in 1865 when Union Army General Gordon Granger announced to enslaved individuals in Texas that they were freed. Many were unaware of the Emancipation Proclamation nearly three years earlier. Since that day, Juneteenth has been celebrated to honor African American freedom and achievement. It’s also a day to pause and reflect and to really assess where we are.

Picture of Joseph Searles

Joseph Searles

“Understanding the definition of racism and the history of slavery is vital as it sets context for where we are today,” said Joseph Searles, Corporate Diversity Relations Director at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Although Juneteenth is celebrated and represents freedom for African Americans who were enslaved, it also marks a time for us to think about how far we have come and what more needs to be done as individuals, communities, and organizations to achieve a society that is fair and equitable for all and not just for some,” said Joseph.

“This year is different”

The celebration of Juneteenth this year is undoubtedly different for many, including Theo. “You can feel it, you can see it. This year is different,” he said. For Theo, Juneteenth remains a time to celebrate culture and change. “With everything going on, there is still a lot for people to celebrate. Let’s make sure everyone is a part of it. Now is the time for everybody to work together, support each other, ask questions to get a better understanding and help each other,” said Theo.

Keeping the Momentum Going

Theo, for one, is excited to see more people taking an interest in celebrating Juneteenth. “You can feel the change. This is probably the first year where I see my counterparts and friends look like they want to celebrate it more,” he said. “If anyone is going to celebrate it this year, we should be consistent and keep that momentum going for future years too.”

Run, Walk, Reflect

While large in-person celebrations will take a pause this year, many local Juneteenth events are going virtual. In Rochester, for example, Mayor Lovely Warren will raise the Juneteenth flag on June 19 and the fourth annual ROC Juneteenth 5K walk/run will be virtual.

In addition to raising awareness about the historic significant of Juneteenth, the ROC Juneteenth 5K is also a fundraiser for the creation of a Civil Rights Park, the first for Rochester and the state. A virtual event provides flexibility for participants who can walk or run any distance from anywhere, home or park. The walk/run can be done in one day or over the course of several days leading up to June 19, 2020.

Picture of Brian Justice

Brian Justice

Participating in the ROC Juneteenth 5K not only supports racial justice but also offers benefits to your health. “Supporting the Juneteenth initiative helps address the racial inequality so deeply embedded in our culture, and participating in the walk/run actually improves your immune system…very important in this COVID-19 environment. And getting others to walk/run with you, even virtually, spreads health…and both missions…to others,” said Brian Justice, D.C., a chiropractor and medical director at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

To learn more about the ROC Juneteenth 5K, visit juneteenth5k.itsyourrace.com

Here’s a list of local Juneteenth events to learn more:



Central New York:

Southern Tier:

Utica/Rome/North Country:

Learn more about Juneteenth at www.juneteenth.com