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 2019 WellCare Grand Champion of NYC 

Stephen Ritz – Green Bronx Machine

Bronx Resident Chosen as 2019 WellCare Grand Champion of New York City

Winner Donates $10,000 to Charity of Choice, Green Bronx Machine

NEW YORK and TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 10, 2019) — WellCare of New York, Inc. (NYSE: WCG), a local Medicaid and Medicare Advantage health plan, announced Stephen Ritz as its 2019 Grand Champion for the New York City area at Citi Field before the Mets vs. Diamondback game on Sept. 10. This is the first year WellCare has honored individuals who help children and older adults in the New York City metro area live better, healthier lives.

Ritz was presented with $10,000 for the charity of his choice, Green Bronx Machine, an organization that uses a school-based urban agriculture model, aligned to key school performance indicators, to help grow healthy students and healthy. He was chosen as the Grand Champion after the community voted on five WellCare Champion finalists.

Ritz, a South Bronx educator, believes that students should not have to leave their zip code to live, learn, and earn in a better one. When teaching middle school, a friend sent his classroom what he thought was a box of onions. He put it in the back of the classroom, behind a radiator and forgot about it. Months later, in the midst of a fight breaking out in class, one student reached behind the radiator and pulled out a handful of daffodils. They were daffodil bulbs - not onions - and the heat from the radiator had forced their blooms. In that moment, Ritz saw what a transformative effect growing plants could have on a classroom and Green Bronx Machine, his non-profit, was born.

His nominator wrote, “Obesity, coronary disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, can all be traced back to poor nutritional health. As Stephen says: "to be well read, students must be well fed." For years, Stephen has worked here in the Bronx, New York City, in the poorest congressional district in the country, amidst the largest stretch of public housing in the nation, with students who have no access to healthy food choices. He teaches students to garden in and out of school, provides nutritional education, teaches them to cook, and inspires them to dream about building a better community for themselves.”

“WellCare is honored to recognize Stephen and the important work he i s doing to help enhance the health and education of youth in the Bronx and beyond,” said John J. Burke, WellCare’s state president in New York. “Stephen’s tireless efforts encourage students to lift up themselves and their communities while helping them live better, healthier lives.”

WellCare Champions are New York City metro area residents who are examples of how one person can make a difference in the lives of children and older adults. The Champions program complements WellCare’s commitment to making a difference in communities by honoring individuals who share WellCare’s goals of improving the quality of life and maximizing access to services for children and seniors with Medicaid and Medicare.

As of June 30, 2019, WellCare serves approximately 304,000 members in New York, including 152,000 Medicaid members, 89,000 Medicare Advantage plan members and 63,000 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members.

About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) focuses primarily on providing government-sponsored managed care services to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, as well as individuals in the Health Insurance Marketplace. WellCare serves approximately 6.3 million members nationwide as of June 30, 2019. For more information about WellCare, please visit the company's website at

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