Cigna Corp. has been a lead sponsor of the Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk for the past six years - contributing $43,000 to more than $300,000 raised at this year's event. "We've been with him since day one," Joseph Mondy, a Cigna spokesman in Bloomfield, said. "Coach Calhoun is larger than life not just in Connecticut for our Connecticut employees but nationwide. This is a guy who has been cancer." The event dovetails with the health insurer's objective to help people improve their health, Mondy said, keeping insurance costs down. Most years, Calhoun has attended a rally a few weeks before the ride and walk to help building excitement and participation. The event has included autograph signing with players, basketball shooting contests and other events. "It's a very motivating event and you can see how he has driven the men's basketball team to three national championships," Mondy said. "He's able to focus and motivate people." Last year's rally was a good example, Mondy said. After talking about he beat cancer, Calhoun and Cigna CEO David Cordani talked about the importance of participation in the event. Then Calhoun asked how many riders had signed up. The answer: 50. ¿Without blinking an eye, Coach said, "Unacceptable," Mondy said. "Our CEO said, `You're right and we're going to change that. The number of riders doubled." Cigna plans to continue its participation in the event. "As far as we¿re concerned, as long as the coach wants us there, we have no choice but to participate," Mondy said.