Significant changes are in store for this June’s Governor’s Cup, as officials with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana hope to increase participation and raise more money for the Caring Foundation.

At a kickoff event Tuesday at Helena Middle School, Blue Cross president Mike Frank announced that any of the 250,000 Blue Cross Montana members will be eligible to register and run or bike one of the races for free.

Also eligible to participate for free are members of AAA MountainWest (who number 150,000), and employees and family members of employees of the event’s major sponsors and partners, which include Wells Fargo, the Independent Record, the city of Helena, Lewis and Clark County and Tempest Technologies.

Officials also announced a change in date. Traditionally held on the first weekend in June, this year’s Governor’s Cup will be held a week later, with the main running events — the 5K and 10K, which combine to draw several thousand entrants to the streets of Downtown Helena — on Saturday, June 12.

By avoiding the traditional high school graduation weekend around the state, organizers hope more Montanans, both from Helena and elsewhere, will take part in the event.

“Our company has a high emphasis on wellness, and that’s one of our big goals this year, to get as many kids and adults as possible in the state involved as we can,” Frank said.

While able to register and take part for free, participants will be asked to donate to the Caring Foundation, a Blue Cross foundation that provides access to health benefits for uninsured Montana children. This year’s focus is on the Healthy Montana Kids Dental Benefit Program.

“From the standpoint of raising money for the Caring Foundation, we’re trying to get more people involved in an enthusiastic way,” said spokesman Tim Warner. “If we’re betting (by making registration free with donations suggested), we’re betting on the good nature and compassion of Montanans statewide in supporting the foundation.”

A couple of hundred Helena Middle School students joined Governor’s Cup organizers on the track Tuesday morning to kick off the event.

“Kids your age are less active than any other generation,” Frank told the students. He then set out to change that, running a mile around the track with groups of students, who took turns passing back and forth a five-foot toothbrush.

More information about the 2010 Governor’s Cup can be found at

Reporter John Harrington:447-4080 or

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