Aetna, Walgreens, United Way Continue Vitamin D Giveaways

-- Program Now Offering Free Samples at Coca-Cola Family Fest --

COLUMBIA, S.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Aetna (NYSE: AET), Walgreens (NYSE, NASDAQ: WAG) and the United Way of the Midlands will continue their efforts to raise awareness of the need for adequate vitamin D intake. During the Sunday, May 30 Coca-Cola Family Fest at Columbia’s Finlay Park, the three organizations will give away more than 10,000, 100-day supplies of vitamin D. The event will run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The program is an extension of the vitamin D giveaway program sponsored by Aetna, Walgreens and the United Way earlier this year. All told, the vitamin D awareness efforts will donate more than 25,000 samples.

“We’re very gratified to be part of such a positive health outreach effort,” said Mark Schmidt, president of Aetna’s operations in the Carolinas. “Working with Walgreens and the United Way of the Midlands, we’ve made significant progress in raising people’s awareness of the need for sufficient vitamin D intake.

According to medical experts, vitamin D helps people absorb calcium, strengthening bones and teeth and helping nerves and muscles work correctly. Studies show that three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults do not receive the amount of vitamin D experts believe is necessary for optimal health. This deficiency can weaken bone development, immune function and heart health.

“We are pleased to continue our participation in this program to drive awareness around a health concern that’s seldom discussed in many communities,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens market vice president. “Our goal is for more people to be informed that supporting a proper diet and healthy lifestyle with a vitamin D supplement is a simple step that can have long-term health benefits.”

“United Way works to create opportunities for a better life for everyone, and good health is essential not only to personal quality of life, but also to productivity and engagement in our community,” said Mac Bennett, president and CEO of United Way of the Midlands. “We all need to become more aware of health risks -- and the potential effects they have on our lives and work -- to change policies and practices that will enable more people to be healthy.”

Because vitamin D is absorbed from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, there also is a strong genetic and biological component involved. Darker skin blocks more of the sun’s rays, medical experts say, which is why African Americans face the highest risk for vitamin D deficiency. Hispanics have similar risks.

“We’ve focused our outreach efforts in areas where we can make the biggest positive impact,” said Schmidt. The vitamin D giveaway program has targeted Richland and Lexington counties, where the population is approximately 45 percent African American.

About Walgreens

Walgreens ( is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2009 sales of $63 billion. The company operates 7,507 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Walgreens provides the most convenient access to consumer goods and services and cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services in America through its retail drugstores and Walgreens Health and Wellness division. The division includes Take Care Health Systems, the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.1 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see and Aetna's Annual Report at


Walt Cherniak, 410-691-1405
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