Kettering Health’s partnership with the Cincinnati Bengals team is producing abundant fruit.
Published on: 01-20-2023
In May 2022, Kettering Health in Ohio, United States, was selected for a 10-year partnership with the National Football League’s Cincinnati Bengals team. In just six months, the value of the partnership has been substantial — and it’s just the beginning.
Kettering Health leaders entered a partnership of this scale for one primary reason: to further its mission of improving the community through health care and education. As the official health-care provider of the Bengals, Kettering Health has been able to significantly expand its reach, guiding people in the Dayton and Cincinnati regions to healthier lives.
“Our partnership with the Bengals allows us to bring our care to people in the community who may not have otherwise interacted with Kettering Health,” Cole Taylor, senior specialist, Sports and Community Sponsorships at Kettering Health, said.
It’s imperative for a partnership of this magnitude to be a natural fit, hospital leaders said. While about 50 miles (80 kilometers) separate the Bengals’ key market (Cincinnati) and Kettering Health’s home base of Dayton, the alignment of purpose, goals, and values knows no distance. As an organization wholly committed to its mission, people, and the health of those in its communities, Kettering Health expects the same from those it works with, leaders said making the Bengals a perfect match.
“The overlap of football and sports and health and wellness is our core competency, so we do all we can to support that,” Alex Simons, director of Community Engagement for the Bengals, said. “Our partnership with Kettering Health helps us achieve that in a lot of unique ways. It draws attention to the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and football is a fun and impactful way for people to do that.”
As part of the partnership with the Bengals, Kettering Health works with Playbook for Health, an organization focused on maintaining meaningful partnerships between professional sports teams and health-care organizations, leading to greater impact for both.
Mike LaPorta, Playbook for Health president, has supported dozens of partnerships with sports teams and health-care organizations, but he’s never seen one quite like this. “We’ve always focused on how we can move the agreement from a sponsorship to a partnership, and a lot of times it takes a couple years before both organizations begin working collaboratively toward one shared goal,” he explained. “For Kettering Health and the Bengals, it has been a partnership since day one.”
The lives of the people in the community are constantly evolving — needs, wants, and values transform throughout one’s life. But an aspect that may never shift is a person’s support for a sports team.
According to insights gleaned by Playbook for Health, fans are 2.5 times more likely to trust the health-care partner of their favorite sports team. Even non-fans who recognize that the team partners with that health-care organization are more likely to trust it.
Kettering Health’s partnership has saturated the Dayton and Cincinnati communities through several events, initiatives, and programs.
Clothing Donations for Sexual Assault Victims
In June 2022, Jack Sorenson, Bengals wide receiver at the time, donated more than 800 articles of clothing for patients who have been sexually assaulted. The donations help victims whose clothing is taken as evidence during Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exams. Kettering Health provides the donated clothing items to victims in emergency departments across its system.
Sorenson contributed bras, underwear, socks, sweatshirts, and pants through his nonprofit organization The Passion Projects.
Kettering Health works alongside the Bengals to help build a foundation of healthy, lifelong physical activity for local students through the Flag In-school program.
By the end of the 2022-23 school year, Kettering Health and the Bengals will have donated flag football kits to 50 schools across the Bengals’ region. Each kit includes a 10-week flag football curriculum, flag belts, footballs, and pinnies.
“Though the program has been around since 2014, having Kettering Health as a partner has really given us the resources to amplify it,” Simons said. “I’m looking forward to growing and expanding the program — adding more schools, visiting more students onsite, and exposing more kids to the game.”
In May, the Bengals 2022 rookie class visited Whitaker Elementary School to hand out Kettering Health–donated flag football kits and lead the students through drills. In September, while John G. Carlisle Elementary fifth-grade students participated in skill and drill stations in their gym class, the Bengals’ Mike Hilton and Ted Karras made a surprise visit to talk about football and provide them with their kits.
One of the ongoing initiatives of the partnership is to intercept cancer in its earliest stages by creating awareness through the NFL’s Crucial Catch program. Crucial Catch is a year-round initiative to provide individuals with the tools they need to better understand early detection and ways to reduce their cancer risk.
In October alone, the impact on the community was immense. It included supporting the cancer community as players shared who they celebrate with Bengals nation on social media with “I Celebrate” signs. The Bengals also invited Kettering Health–treated cancer survivors to a private football practice, where they had the chance to celebrate their journey and meet players.
At the October 23 game, Kettering Health played a significant role in the day’s events, from employees’ delivering the game ball to passing out 10,000 “I Celebrate” signs and singing the national anthem, and a halftime bell-ringing ceremony honoring cancer survivors. On the day of the Crucial Catch game, Kettering Health and the Bengals combined reached more than 1.5 million people on social media with the message of the importance of early cancer detection and screening. Most importantly, Kettering Health and the Bengals were able to encourage more breast cancer screenings. In the month of October, the number of mammograms scheduled online doubled.
While a large focus of this initiative was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Bengals’ Crucial Catch game in October, the work does not end there. Kettering Health has maximized the NFL’s Crucial Catch platform to create year-round awareness for cancers with screening tests for breast, cervical, colorectal (colon), and lung cancers.
“One of the things I love about how we’ve come together on this initiative is that it’s not just about breast cancer,” Simons said. “It’s about all cancers. It’s reminding people to pay attention to their bodies 365 days a year, and take the time to get the screenings and care they need to stay healthy.”
Paycor Stadium First Aid
A major component of the partnership is delivering care to fans at Paycor Stadium for all Bengals home games, training camps, and other major events like concerts. Kettering Health has five first-aid stations staffed by its Event Medicine team, which, by the end of the season, will have supported 10 home games and 26 events with more than 700 Kettering Health staff members.
Kettering Health holds itself to the highest standards of excellence, and as a result, the Event Medicine team reinvented the approach to care at the stadium to ensure any fan in need can receive advanced care at a moment’s notice — despite the nearly 1.8-million-square-foot (167,000-square-meter) spread of the stadium and the 67,000 people in attendance.
Bengals Legends Event
In September, at what is called the Bengals Legends event, more than a dozen former Bengals players visited Kettering Health Cancer Center to assemble more than 800 care packages, sign their names on banners, and share video messages of encouragement — all for patients and employees of Kettering Health’s cancer centers.
In addition to the partnership, Kettering Health has been selected as the Bengals’ partner of choice and participating health-care system for the NFL Dedicated Hospital Network Program in southwest Ohio. Through this partnership, eligible retired players will have access to the high-quality preventative, orthopedic, and primary care services available at Kettering Health.
2023 and Beyond
What’s most exciting about the partnership with the Bengals is the potential for the future. Kettering Health has nine and a half more years to make an even greater impact on the lives of those in its community.
“I’m really excited about pursuing opportunities and causes that our players are particularly passionate about, that Kettering Health can help provide services or resources toward,” Simons said. “I am confident there are opportunities on the horizon for next year for Kettering Health to support our players and their community work.”
One such plan is conducting a large-scale CPR training event at Paycor Stadium for local high school students.
“Both organizations had the right people at the table from the beginning who saw the bigger vision of this partnership beyond a traditional sponsor inside the stadium,” LaPorta said. “There was not only values alignment between the organizations, but there was also recognition that we can double the reach of our mission geographically by partnering together.”
Kettering Health looks forward to doing exactly that for the next nine and a half years.