Protecting Children

Saying thanks by paying it forward

Lisa Simmons and her nephew, Adam.I have been an American Family employee for 25 years, and it’s always been a great place to work. One reason is all the wonderful co-workers and friends who surround me every day.

Another is knowing how much American Family cares and gives back to our communities, including the support of the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis.

I am originally from Madison, and my family still lives there. The summer of 2008, my 10-year-old nephew, Adam, was in the American Family Children’s Hospital, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The next two years he was a regular at the hospital for treatments and checkups and we know he received the best care possible. He also felt loved by every doctor and nurse who had contact with him.

Adam’s greatest wish was to meet former Green Bay Packer Brett Favre. In January 2010, Adam had his dream come true through Make-A-Wish – Wisconsin. This is a memory our entire family will cherish forever.

Sadly, Adam passed away six months later, on Aug. 15, 2010. His doctor even spoke at his funeral on behalf of all the staff at the hospital who had come to know and love him.

My daughter was very close to Adam and is always looking for ways to honor and remember him. Last year she decided we should start a team and walk in Adam’s memory for Make-A-Wish – Arizona and “pay it forward” for all the support Adam received in Wisconsin from the American Family Children’s Hospital and those who take such good care of the patients and families who come there. We were able to raise $2,700 as a team and help make other children’s wishes come true.

This year will be our second year as Team “Amazing Adam.” The walk is scheduled for Sunday, March 10, 2013. We are hoping to exceed last year's amount. If you’d like to learn more about our team, here’s our team page.

It’s important to “pay it forward” because we believe every sick child’s wish should come true.​

Posted by LisaSimmons on Fri, Mar 08 2013 2:33 pmLisa Simmons is a field administrative assistant at American Family Insurance's Phoenix office.

Escape to a movie theater near you

Movie theater seatingI recently took my family to see the movie “Lincoln.” It’s an amazing film about our 16th president, which has been nominated or already won several awards. You get an incredible glimpse into one of the most important and tragic times in our country’s history. 

More importantly, the film – and the trip we took to our local theater – allowed for a welcome escape from the everyday activities of work, school, sports, church and more.

Films are themselves a very American experience, and so is the modern-day movie theatre visit. Even the very process by which we watch movies – the darkened room, the stadium seating, the oversized tub of popcorn, the giant screen – provides something we don’t normally experience in our day-to-day lives. (I’d love to eat movie-theatre popcorn every day, but my arteries wouldn’t.)

At the movies, we can live vicariously through characters of yesterday, today and tomorrow; real people or those completely ridiculous and fictional. They show us what it was like to live years or generations ago, or give us ideas for living our lives today.

I’m partial to films based on historic events, like “Lincoln”. But even if you’re a fan of romantic comedies, action flicks or science fiction films, there’s an escape from reality we can all appreciate. For a couple hours, we can put away the smart phone, get off the freeway and away from the office, and see life through the people portrayed in a good movie.

What films have provided you with a good escape lately? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Editor’s note: American Family Insurance powers the 2013 Kids Dream Winter Film Series, which is now showing at participating Marcus Theatres in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin. You can get free tickets to these family-friendly films (which run Saturday and Sunday mornings through March 17, 2013) from participating American Family Insurance agents. Otherwise, the films are just $2 per person. Visit our website for more information and to find an agent near you. 

Posted by Tom Buchheim on Tue, Feb 05 2013 8:18 pm

Jack’s story: Why sick kids can’t wait

Jack Pierce JacobsenIn October 2009, my son Jack, now 11, was admitted to American Family Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with Type 1 insulin dependent diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, so insulin shots must be given. There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, unlike Type 2, which can usually be controlled by diet and exercise.

This was an immediate life change. The endocrinology team worked to stabilize Jack and teach Mom and Dad how to care for him once we returned home. Our new normal would become a routine of checking blood sugars, giving shots and counting carbohydrates. A lot to learn in a two-day hospital stay, but the hospital gave us the tools we needed.

Their attention to detail amazed us. The first night, just a few weeks shy of Halloween, the admitting doctor presented Jack with a sheet of carbohydrate counts for snack-size treats. The nurse on duty spent hours in the room as my husband was on a hiking trip out West and was trying to get a flight home. Late that first night she asked how things were going and I replied, “He’s good, he’s sleeping.” She looked over her glasses and said, “I’m not asking about your son, I’m concerned about Mom.”

During the next several days, as we worked with doctors to regulate Jack’s blood sugars, we learned to test blood sugars and give shots; we met with a dietitian, psychologist, chaplain and nurse educator. Jack, on the other hand, enjoyed playing video games, visiting the play rooms and doing art projects. The hospital is such a kid-friendly environment Jack always says it looks like a school, not a hospital. The teaching tools the hospital provided us were amazing, and the empathy from the doctors and nurses always real.

Jack will be a patient at the hospital until his early 20s. He visits quarterly to make sure things are in check. The doctors and nurses are wonderful. They know Jack and his likes and dislikes. As a parent of a child with a chronic illness, I am reassured to have the children’s hospital right in our backyard to help us manage Jack’s diabetes.

As a family, we have been involved in the hospital since the original capital campaign to build. We are donors and volunteers, and I sit on the Advisory Board. I never dreamed we’d use the hospital, and here we are today, several stays and a dozen or so quarterly checkups later.

As an agent, I have always taken great pride in American Family’s legacy of giving to the children’s hospital. It started years ago with my father, (former CEO) Harvey Pierce, and continues with current leadership. I am proud to share the story of American Family Children’s Hospital with customers, friends and neighbors. It is such a tremendous gift to this community.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to tour, learn more and consider a gift to the hospital. Like the Pierce Jacobsen family, you never know when you may need American Family Children’s Hospital.

Editor’s Note: Spurred by an initial $10 million flagship gift from American Family Insurance in 2003, American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis., provides specialized care in a healing environment designed especially for pediatric patients and their families.

However, more beds and treatment spaces are needed to care for the growing number of acutely ill babies and children. The "Sick Kids Can't Wait" campaign was launched to raise the funds needed to provide 26 more pediatric critical care beds, new operating room equipment and pediatric treatment spaces for children requiring advanced heart and radiological procedures.

Join American Family Insurance in our support of American Family Children’s Hospital’s “Sick Kids Can’t Wait” campaign.

Posted by Susan Pierce Jacobsen on Fri, Dec 28 2012 1:32 pm

Drawing isn't just child's play

Rachel's dream is to be a teacher and help kids learnMy wife and I can’t really draw. Our talents are elsewhere – mine with written words, hers with music. We enjoyed drawing at a young age, but our abilities didn’t keep up with our age.  

So when our kids learned to draw, we sought help, buying these great books on how to draw. We practiced as a family for hours, hoping to give our kids a life-long skill they would appreciate more than we had. So far, it’s working. They both enjoy drawing and often use their free time honing their craft.

Drawing helps kids visualize more complex ideas. It’s why today’s school work often includes an artistic aspect.

My sixth-grade son recently drew pictures to represent several abstract terms, like technology and science. It was a way for him to better understand – visually and artistically – ideas that don’t often have an obvious image associated with them.

It got me thinking about how as adults, we don’t do enough drawing and visualization in our day-to-day lives. I think if we did, it would make a positive difference in solving complex problems. 

Take dreams, for example. For many, it’s something hard to grasp visually. It’s also very personal, so talking about dreams makes some of uncomfortable.

Would drawing pictures help? I think so.

Give it a try sometime. Get your family or close friends involved. You’d be surprised at how – even if (like me) you’re not a talented artist – you’ll learn more about your hopes and dreams by drawing them.  

If you need some inspiration, check out the American Family Insurance Draw Your Dreams contest. We’ve invited kids (13 and under) to share their dreams with us – in a visual way. Like Rachel’s dream of being a teacher and helping kids learn, which I’ve included with my blog post. These pictures will take you back to those grade school days when drawing played such an important part of learning.

Maybe it’s time my wife and I did our homework – and got out those how-to-draw books.

Editor's note: The American Family Insurance Draw Your Dreams contest runs through Oct. 28, 2012. Help your kids enter by visiting www.amfam.com/draw_your_dream. Entries must be postmarked by Oct. 28.  

Posted by Tom Buchheim on Mon, Oct 22 2012 10:03 am

Fall focus: Celebrating the harvest, helping the hungry

Watch our Corny Corn Maze Survival Tips videoCelebrating fall in the Midwest means getting outside as much as possible before the snow and cold arrive. Picking apples, choosing just the right pumpkin and visiting corn mazes are part of the celebrations.

This year, our social media team decided to create a Corny Corn Maze Survival Tips video to celebrate this great fall tradition. This is kind of out there for us: traditionally, we’re not really funny. But we decided to have some fun and with the help of the fabulous team at Treinen Farms in Lodi, Wis., we created the video with practical tips.

Take a look, and let me know what you think!

It was July when we started working on this video, right in the middle of the devastating drought. Looking ahead to the harvest and reading about the impact it would have on grocery prices, we started thinking about the issue of hunger.

We decided we wanted to do something, and fortunately were able to expand on an existing partnership with the National FFA Organization and support their Rally to Fight Hunger.  We could have just given them money, but decided to take this on as a social cause, using our Facebook community to help raise the money and spread the word about the impact hunger has on American families.

The support has been impressive. Our customers and other Facebook fans have left many positive comments thanking us for our support, and to them I say “thank YOU!”

They’ve put the social in this social cause, helping us to spread the word about the FFA’s great work.

Celebrating with a little bit of humor, addressing a serious national issue and watching people rally around a common cause. It’s been a good few weeks.

Posted by Michele Wingate on Wed, Oct 17 2012 1:29 pm
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