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FORMER BOXER WINS TOP BLUE CROSS STATEWIDE VOLUNTEER AWARD

 CLEVELAND, Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- A one-time Golden Gloves boxer, Robert Jones, 75, who is now a full-time fighter for seniors in his Glenville neighborhood, today was named to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio (BCBSO) John Mannix Hall of Honor for exemplary senior volunteers at an award ceremony in the Statler Office Tower, Cleveland.
 Sponsored by volunteers of the company's senior advisory councils, the statewide tribute also honored Viva Barthel, Louisville; Rosa Bernice Cepek, Parma; Gertrude Postma, Lakewood; Mary June Trott, Montpelier; and Marie Webb, Springfield.
 For more than 25 years, Jones has made elderly neighbors and friends his top priority, becoming their first call for help when they need a neighborhood crime fighter, repairman or outreach activist. Today he becomes the third inductee to the Mannix Hall of Honor, named after John Mannix, the founder of the Cleveland-based Blue Cross plan, who remained an active health care advocate until his death in 1990 at the age of 87.
 "This tribute says 'thank you' and encourages others to create their own prescription for a long and healthy life by helping others and mirroring the Mannix legend," said John Burry, Jr., BCBSO chairman and chief executive officer, who presented the award plaque to Jones.
 "He's never too tired, too busy or too sick to fix a problem and is really on call 24 hours a day," said Susan Axelrod, director of the Cleveland Department of Aging, who nominated Jones. Jones, a self- taught and street-smart retired engineer and machinist, admitted it's not unusual for him and his wife to be rousted out of bed in the middle of the night by a phone call to go to the side of a senior, fearful of anything from an encroaching arson fire to a heated exchange over a drug deal.
 "We try to look after folks as much as we can," said Jones, who quickly credited his wife, Mattie, as joint support. "So many here have lost faith in the system, you have to put that trust back. I try to tell them to get involved, but in the inner city, especially, people lock themselves up and are afraid to go out of their homes."
 Not only does Jones work to make his neighborhood safe, but also sound. He's rejuvenated the Glenville neighborhood annual festival and has conducted self-help repair courses for seniors through his church. But he has even bigger plans.
 "I already have my eye on a piece of property with delinquent taxes...and we can fix it up ourselves," explained Jones. His next project is a senior citizen center for Glenville, "a place they can call their own" and "Mattie's already helped me line up the teachers."
 While Jones admitted he is "getting tired," the active member of the Boxing and Wrestling Commission taps into his strong spiritual side to find new strength to keep working for those "getting up in years...slowing up," who really need his help.
 As for warnings to slow down himself after his recent heart attack, he explained, "If you gotta go, there's no better way to go than helping somebody."
 Television personality Del Donahoo of WKYC-TV3, who has hosted the event since its inception three years ago, again served as master of ceremonies.
 Hundreds of statewide senior centers and outreach organizations with first-hand knowledge of exceptional senior volunteers may submit nominations. With names removed from all written entries, Blue Cross Senior Council volunteers select winners based on the impact of their grassroots work in helping other elderly citizens achieve a healthier quality of life through their heartfelt efforts.
 All winners receive personalized awards, although the top choice and ranking by senior council volunteers remained a surprise until the luncheon announcement. That name is inscribed on a permanent plaque in the Blue Cross corporate headquarters' public reception area.
 -0- 2/9/93
 /CONTACT: Paula Slimak of William Silverman & Co., 216-696-7750, for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio/


CO: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Ohio ST: Ohio IN: INS SU: PER

KK -- CL017 -- 4788 02/09/93 15:37 EST
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Date:Feb 9, 1993
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