STEUBENVILLE - The Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley is making it possible for area high school students to see and hear Capt. Richard Phillips talk about the Maersk Alabama hijacking free of charge.
The Health Plan has purchased more than 300 general admission tickets - all the general admission tickets available for the 7:30 p.m., April 3 event - which will be distributed among the region's high schools.
"This will be a great event," said Dave Mathieu, vice president of marketing for the Health Plan. "I thought including the students was a great idea. It's a great opportunity for students to see what's out there, and a great educational tool."
Mathieu said he and his wife attended the presentation by the husband-and-wife CIA masters of disguise Antonio and Jonna Mendez in April and were impressed with the experience, leading to he and the Health Plan being willing to sign on to sponsor the tickets to be distributed to the high schools. He said when Jim Emmerling of Em-Media approached the Health Plan about buying the tickets for high school students, he saw it as a great opportunity.
Mathieu said the additional attention on Phillips being generated by the Academy Award-nominated theatrical film "Captain Phillips" starring Tom Hanks, makes the speaker's appearance very timely.
"This particular generation relates very well to movies," Mathieu explained. "This presentation will be of interest to high school students who already have seen the movie. They now will get a chance to see the guy portrayed by Tom Hanks tell the story in his own words, which is a plus. It's a great educational opportunity for them to get to interact with someone involved in present-day history. We were thrilled to get involved and are happy to be on board.
The tickets will be for balcony seating in the Steubenville High School Auditorium for the event. Tickets will be distributed to high schools on both sides of the Ohio River. Distribution to students will be handled by officials in each individual school. Students who are interested in attending the presentation should check with the main office at their school for ticket availability.
"I really think the students will be able to relate to this event," Mathieu added. "It's more relevant to them, because it's happened in their lifetime. It's great to see kids who want to expand their horizons."
Providing the tickets is another example of the Health Plan's commitment to the region, Mathieu said.
"This is a great opportunity to give back to the community," he said.