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2016 Own Your Future Challenge
Winners of the 2016 Own Your Future Challenge
posted in: Community
by Jenna Allen

What does it mean to “Own Your Future”?

In 2016, we set out on a cross-country adventure to meet people and ask them one simple question: if you had $10,000, how would you use it to own your future?

From travel, to education, to renovations, to personal well-being, we learned that a little can go a long way to improve the lives of the people we care most about: you. So we packed up our big green Future Booth and traveled to events around the country, asking people to visit our booth and tell us how they would spend the money if they won. We also ran contests online, asking people to submit photos and videos, giving us a glimpse into their everyday lives. Here’s how Own Your Future went from a concept to a reality for four different families this year.

At first, we divided the money between the family and a local school of their choice, knowing that community is important not only to us but also to the people we serve. Our first winner, Kobe Smith, recorded and submitted a video telling us that he’d like to use the money to help his brother with college. And our second winner, Emmy Susanka, wanted to help classmates afford a school trip to China. Both of them were surprised at school with checks, $5,000 for their family, and $5,000 for their school.

As the year (and the challenge) progressed, we had the opportunity to speak to more people face-to-face at our events, and decided that we’d be able to make more of an impact on the lives of the people we were interacting with if we gave them $10,000 and let them spend it on what the family truly needed. With this change to our challenge, as well as asking for photo submissions instead of video, we saw our submissions double, as people told and showed us the impact that $10,000 would have on their lives and how it could help their family own their future.

Our third winner was Heather Savka and her family. Heather believed that $10,000 would go a long way towards helping her two-year-old daughter Emma connect with others from the dwarfism community and become more involved with the Little People of America, who hold annual conventions and conferences all over the United States. The Little People of America believe in fostering a sense of community and providing education for families, just like we do, and meeting Emma was an incredibly rewarding experience for this writer (I even got to play a small part in the surprise video).

The fourth and final winner of the 2016 Own Your Future Challenge was Chris Gaura. He wanted to do everything possible to help his kids succeed, and in particular thought the $10,000 would be a great investment in the future of his daughter Josie’s gymnastics career. Gymnastics teaches Josie perseverance, dedication to a goal, and also gives her confidence – on and off the high bars – which are amazing qualities to foster in a young girl.

We’re so grateful that we got to meet people, from Seattle to Atlanta, who believed in owning their future. I for one can’t wait to see what we’ll do in 2017 to help our customers protect what matters most: their families. What would you do with $10,000 to help your family own their future? Tell us in the comments below!

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