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Pioneering Staten Island Adult With Cerebral Palsy Throws First Pitch at Mets Game Thanks to EmblemHealth
From: EmblemHealth
55 Water Street, New York, NY 10041

Contact: For EmblemHealth: Rubenstein Associates – Public Relations
Jaclyn Mattel –
(212) 843-9272; (973) 454-8211

Pioneering Staten Island Adult With Cerebral Palsy Throws First Pitch at Mets Game
Thanks to EmblemHealth
QUEENS, NY – Eric Coull, 41, an avid New York Mets fan with cerebral palsy and one of the first people in New York to use a computerized synthetic voice to communicate, threw out the first pitch at a Mets-Marlins game at Citi Field thanks to EmblemHealth, which provides health care coverage through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP).
Mr. Coull, who lives in a United Cerebral Palsy of New York City (UCP of NYC) residence in Staten Island, was accompanied by his roommate Robert Eakman and neighbor Michael Blackman, as well as his Residential Program Specialist, Anthony Weston.
“Eric, Robert and Michael were just wild with excitement when I told them about the Mets and the first pitch,” says Maria Trantino, assistant director of UCP’s Castleton Residence Program, which includes apartments for 17 adults with cerebral palsy in the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island. She says the three men watch games in Mr. Coull’s and Mr. Eakman’s apartment, which is painted “Mets blue” and decorated with posters of players. “We are very grateful to EmblemHealth and the Mets for this wonderful opportunity.”
According to Mr. Coull’s mother Linda, her son is adventurous, fun loving and extremely brave. He can walk but cannot speak, and communicates with a palm device with a built in voice. In fact, she says when he received his first device 25 years ago, he was among the first in New York City to have an augmented computerized synthetic voice.
“Eric became a Mets fan because of his legs,” she says. “Between the ages of 12 and 13, he had three operations at the Hospital for Joint Diseases and spent a year and a half between the hospital and rehabilitation at St. Mary’s Hospital in Bayside, Queens. Thanks to St. Mary’s, he went to many Mets games at nearby Shea Stadium. I remember watching the 1986 World Series when he finally came home after nine months in the hospital. He rooted for the Mets, and I rooted for him.”
This is the 11th consecutive year EmblemHealth has passed along the honor of throwing the first pitch at a Mets game to a deserving New Yorker. It is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to encourage health and fitness, and give back to the communities it serves.
“Eric Coull has not let his disabilities prevent him from living a full, independent life,” says Frank Branchini, President and COO of EmblemHealth. “He is an inspiration and a role model for New Yorkers everywhere, and we are delighted to make a dream come true for this particular Mets fan.”


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