The Hartford Supports Smashing Stereotypes Via Movie ‘Murderball’

July 26, 2005

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and the Disability Management Employer Coalition have partnered to present a special screening of the movie Murderball at the 10th Annual National Disability Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The Hartford, a U.S. provider of disability insurance, and DMEC, an employer-based organization to provide practical training, tools and peer support to optimize workforce productivity through absence, productivity and health management, will screen the award-winning documentary at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2 at the OMNI Hotel. Murderball’s star Bob Lujano will attend the screening and participate in a question-and-answer session with conference attendees after the screening.

The movie presents an unsentimental view of the U.S. Quadriplegic (“quad”) Rugby team, a group of tough, highly competitive athletes who battle each other in custom-made gladiator-like wheelchairs in their pursuit of the Paralympic gold medal. Quad rugby, originally called “murderball,” is the full-contact wheelchair sport that is a mix of hockey, basketball and football. Off the court, these men are employees, boyfriends, husbands and sons, and active members of their communities, clearly demonstrating that life with a disability can be independent, productive and highly rewarding.

The movie won the Documentary Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize for Editing at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

“We believe that Murderball, in addition to being a great sports film, has the power to educate and transform its viewers,” said Dick Mucci, executive vice president and director of The Hartford’s Group Benefits Division, which has sponsored premieres of Murderball in major U.S. cities. “At the start of the film, we see men with a disability. By the end, we are focused on the tremendous athleticism, as well as the deep relationships of these men. This focus on what individuals can do instead of what they cannot do is at the foundation of our business as a disability insurer.”

Lujano, one of the athletes profiled in the film, in 1979 lost his limbs below the elbow and above the knee, due to a rare blood disease called meningococcemia. Today, he is one of the world’s best quad rugby players and the coordinator of athletics for the Lakeshore Foundation, an official U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site in Birmingham, Ala.

The screening of Murderball is part of The Hartford and DMEC’s ongoing support of the U.S. Paralympics. On Sunday, July 31, DMEC will host its 2nd Annual Walk/Run to benefit the U.S. Paralympics. More than 100 conference participants will donate $25 each to participate in the 5K run/2K walk within the planned community of ChampionsGate in Orlando. On Monday, Aug. 1, its proceeds will be presented to Paul Nitz, a three-time Paralympic gold medalist on behalf of the U.S. Paralympics.

The focus of this year’s DMEC Conference, “The Magic of IDM: Incorporating the Human Element,” is behavioral health and its impact on disability and absence. The topic is of growing interest, especially among mid-sized employers seeking the most innovative productivity and cost-containment strategies. The conference will take place Sunday, July 31 through Wednesday, Aug. 3, at the new OMNI Hotel in Orlando, Florida. For more information, visit or call (800) 789-3632.

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