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Happy Friday! On today’s Up To Speed Live, host Diana Alvear recapped the big news stories from earlier in the week and shared the following new updates:

Build It Forward

Verizon Media’s mission is to connect people to their passions and Yahoo’s Build It Forward will preview and launch products that bring people closer to things they love, like sports, shopping, food and parenting. While the real star of the event is our products, Verizon Media’s CEO Guru Gowrappan and Head of Global Commerce Andrea Wasserman will be joined by all-star guests including David Ortiz, Serena Williams, Rebecca Minkoff, Hannah Bronfman and host Craig Robinson from a futuristic XR stage.

Tune in on Tuesday, March 23, at 12 PM ET/ 9 AM PT on Yahoo to watch the show. All of the details will be on the web.

HBCU Esports league

Calling all gamers! Verizon is joining forces with Twitch to become the foundational sponsor and official 5G partner of the first-ever HBCU Esports League. Make sure to check out the premiere HBCU Esports League Verizon Celebrity Pro-Am, a Fortnite tournament featuring HBCU students, celebrity athletes and pro-gamers live on Twitch and Verizon’s Twitter on Saturday, March 20 at 4 PM ET/1 PM PT.

There’s a new game in town

Do the names Johnny Manziel and Marshawn Lynch ring a bell? Think of the Fan Controlled Football League as the intersection between sports and gaming. As part of our Verizon Ventures portfolio, we’re testing and showcasing interactive engagement to transform the way we watch sports. We’re talking 180-degree cameras, drone cameras and first-person POV helmet cameras, giving you full control of how you watch the game. And, fans who aren’t in the arena can still participate. It’s the league's first season with four teams, and this weekend it’s the championship game between the Wild Aces and Glacier Boyz. Catch it this Saturday at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on and @Verizon on Twitter.

The power of BlueJeans

Avram Woidislawsky is a strong and adventurous 80-year-old, but when the retired businessman became the first COVID-19 patient admitted to Pennsylvania Hospital on March 22, he was scared. For 81 days, he lived on a ventilator, spending two months of that in a medically induced coma. What’s more, his close-knit family couldn’t visit him in hospital. “In the first couple of months, we were in a dark place,” says Avram’s wife, Rita. “We had no connection. We would wait by the phone day and night, hoping to hear from the doctor, unable to know what was going on with him.”

When the BlueJeans video conferencing app was installed in Pennsylvania Hospital’s ICU, everything changed. Although Avram was too ill to communicate at first, the Woidislawskys could see and speak to him around the clock. They would play Avram’s favorite music through the app, while taking him on virtual tours of his beloved home. Rita and Gal could say hello to his doctors and nurses as they entered Avram’s room, and keep up to date on his progress. “The app meant we could stay connected with the people who were saving my Dad’s life,” says Gal. “It was such a gift.”

You can learn more about Avram’s journey by visiting the BlueJeans blog.

Robocall protection

Want more good news? To date, Verizon has protected customers from more than 10 billion robocalls. Even better, we just announced that we’re exchanging STIR/SHAKEN-enabled calls with the #2 and #3 wireless carriers. STIR/SHAKEN, an industry-wide effort, helps verify that a call is in fact from the number displayed on the Caller ID and not spoofed. What does that mean for consumers? Less calls being spoofed, giving them more confidence that the calls they receive are actually coming from the number displayed on the Caller ID.

Now that’s a deep clean

You know V Teamers are a caring bunch, but Fleet Operations Senior Manager Mike Hopkins of Staten Island, NY, takes it to another level. He literally took a deep dive, again and again, to clean his local underwater environment, clocking in 30 hours of volunteer work last year with a goal of 40 for 2021. Way to go, Mike!

Citizen Verizon

In nearly every community we serve, you’ll find V Teamers like Mike, volunteering to make life a little better for others. In just the first two months of 2021, we have already seen over 18,000 employees give over 51,000 hours of their time and talents to moving the world forward for good. As we continue to move toward our goal of 2.5M hours by 2025, we want to hear about the journey along the way. Share your stories, pictures, and more with us at

Until next time…

We closed today’s episode with a great sign-off video submission from Sergio Alonzo, Consumer Sales District Manager, from our newest store in South Beach in Miami Beach, FA. If you have an interest in getting on Up To Speed, please take a video with your phone and send it to We’d love to see your neighborhood, work location or community. The more creative the better!

Click here for a transcript of the webcast.

Get the latest information on our Coronavirus Resource Page (Inside Verizon, The Street).

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