Lattimore endorsing wellness doctor visits

Want kids to care about their health?

They might not listen to mom and dad, their doctor or their teachers. But one South Carolina health care provider is betting that if former USC star running back Marcus Lattimore calls, they’ll take heed.

Lattimore – who signed on as a San Francisco 49er in this year’s NFL draft – is teaming up with Charleston’s First Choice by Select Health of South Carolina to urge doctor well visits among 17 to 21 year olds on its Medicaid health plan.

More than 7,500 First Choice members in that age group will get a personalized telephone message from Lattimore during the week of June 10 emphasizing the importance of well visits.

“My lifelong dream of playing professional football has always been closely tied to my health, so I know how important it is to eat right, be active and get regular well visits with a family doctor,” Lattimore said in a release, urging young people to take control of their health and not wait until they are sick or injured to see a doctor.

“It’s a big part of being healthy,” said Lattimore, who is only 21 himself. “Going to see your doctor once a year – just doing that little thing – can go a long way. Your doctor needs to check on you and make sure everything is good.”

Lattimore won the hearts of Gamecock fans and football fans across the nation during last year’s football season when he tore three ligaments in his right knee in a gut-wrenching injury Oct. 27 against Tennessee. That came on the heels of an ACL tear in his left knee in 2011. Still, he battled back to be draft-ready this spring and was taken 131st overall.

Lattimore’s message on health care also will go statewide this summer. An interview with the gridiron standout will appear in the summer issue of Healthy Now, a quarterly newsletter for First Choice members that will reach 130,000 households next month. Two online interviews will be available at

Through the “First Choice Fit” program, the company – which serves 255,000 people in all 46 S.C. counties – is trying to educate the public about preventative care.

Well visits are recommended for all children from birth to age 21, the company said. Regular medical checkups include critical medical monitoring, such as eye and hearing tests, blood pressure checks, immunizations, growth and development checks and counseling for nutrition and physical activity.

“We’re very excited that Marcus Lattimore is spearheading our efforts to get adolescents the preventive care they need,” said Cindy Helling, executive director at Select Health. “Marcus has overcome great challenges through an unwavering commitment to a healthy lifestyle, making him an inspiration to peers who can look up to him as a role model for their own health.”