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Unity team
A measure of Unity Health System's success at the Chase Corporate Challenge in Rochester is the team photo from 2010, in which some members of the large team spill out over the photo's frame. Company Captain Tom Crilly (with bullhorn in center of photo) helped Unity Health start its first Corporate Challenge team in 2004.

Team effort at Unity Health System creates
enduring success at Corporate Challenge


ROCHESTER, April 22, 2011 - Sometimes, a team effort begins long before the team lines up at the actual event. A case in point is Unity Health System and its participation in the Chase Corporate Challenge® in Rochester.

When the 21st annual Chase Corporate Challenge is run on Tuesday, May 24, Unity Health System will be there in force for the 3.5-mile team road race at the Rochester Institute of Technology. It will be the eighth straight year that Unity Health will have a team, an effort that traces its roots to Tom Crilly, Unity's Company Captain.

A former high school runner, Crilly participated in the Chase Corporate Challenge in 2003. He left thinking that this was an ideal event for his colleagues at Unity Health System, which is dedicated to "providing the best possible health care experience" and has over 70 locations in Rochester and Monroe County.

"I felt that it was an event Unity can appreciate and aligns well with our mission to make a positive difference in the health and well-being of others, including our employees." said Crilly.

Crilly's vision and drive got the Corporate Challenge ball rolling at Unity Health in 2004.

"That first year, we had 35 people on the Unity team, and Tom was our team captain," said Patrizia Corvaia, Public Relations Manager at Unity. "Since then, we've seen participation grow every year! We believe we will achieve our goal of having at least 200 participants on the Unity Team this year."

That record of growth and participation has been a true team effort at Unity. Crilly remains the Company Captain, but for several years he has been helped by a planning committee that encourages employees to get involved in events like the Corporate Challenge.

"Part of the education that we provide our people is that this is an all-inclusive event — that seasoned runners, beginners, and walkers alike are encouraged to be part of the team," said Corvaia. "We have a program that is open to all staff which provides training for beginners who are interested in learning how to run a 5K or 10K. We provide incentives to the employees who participate in at least half of the classes."

The efforts have changed lives for Unity employees in a positive way according to Crilly and fellow planning committee members Joanna King and Marie Williams.

"At least two people on our team have incorporated running, and participation in the Challenge, as a motivator and goal in their journey to quit smoking … and it's worked," they said. "We know of at least one participant who has served on Unity's planning committee, made it a goal to be physically active and healthy, and will be walking in the Challenge for the first time this year."

Another Unity employee — Don Gibson — runs the race in full Army fatigues and boots, while holding an MIA/POW flag from start to finish.

"It is inspiring to see how he trains and runs with his uniform and boots, and his enthusiasm to raise awareness about those who have served our country and are missing in action or prisoners of war," said Corvaia.

Even members of the planning committee have had their lives changed.

Members of Unity Health System's team gather for a photo in the company's tent at Rochester Institute of Technology.

"Joanna King has helped plan for the Challenge since 2005," Corvaia said. "That year, she walked in the Challenge. Since then, she has been inspired to do more, and has become an avid runner. This year, King plans to do two full marathons and two half marathons! Another person on our planning committee says she never thought she would attempt to run the Challenge. This year, she has made the commitment to run for the first time."

"It's really a compelling and emotional experience to see the triumphs of our people participate in the Challenge and cross the finish line," Corvaia added. "It's so inspiring to see people give it their all and achieve their goals."

All of which goes to the heart of one of Unity's core principles — the value it places on people, including its own employees. It is a fact not lost on senior management at Unity Health. In fact, support and encouragement from senior management has been the other major factor in the growth of Unity Health's Corporate Challenge participation.

This year, three senior managers have signed up to once again participate on the team — Crilly, who is Unity's Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer; Timothy Balconi, President of Unity Health Foundation; and Warren Hern, President/CEO of Unity Health System.

"Tom (Crilly) is always actively recruiting Unity people to join the team, so that number might hopefully grow," said Corvaia.

The importance of the personal involvement of senior management in a team-building, fitness-oriented event for all levels of employees at Unity Health — or any company for that matter — is something not to be underestimated.

"Above all else, we care about the well-being of our people," said Hern, "and events like the Challenge allow us an opportunity to demonstrate that concern."

Adds Corvaia: "I think it says a lot about our leadership's commitment to our community and our wellness programs for our staff. We're in this together … senior leadership feels passionately about that, and we want our Unity people to see that."

And, of course, as a company involved in health care, Unity Health System also relates well to the fitness-oriented message the Chase Corporate Challenge sends to the corporate community, and really the community overall, in Rochester.

"Our mission is to make a positive difference in the health and well-being of the people we serve," said Corvaia. "Events like the Chase Corporate Challenge allow us the opportunity to take part in an event that allows us to promote our mission to all in our community."

It's a team effort at Unity Health System that has become an enduring success.


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