Life Happens on July 31 announced the 2017 recipients of the Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program, an annual program honoring four insurance agents and advisors for their exceptional commitment to assisting families through times of adversity due to a disability or an unexpected death.
Through the Real Life Stories Recognition Program, Life Happens, the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Americans about the importance of life insurance, disability income and long-term care insurance, showcases these exemplary stories to raise awareness about the value of insurance coverage and the importance of seeking professional advice.
“There is no doubt that life insurance and disability insurance are important to a sound financial plan. All too often, though, Americans misunderstand the benefits and costs of life insurance and therefore are ill-equipped to manage unexpected hardship,” said Marvin Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, President and CEO of Life Happens. “We are thrilled to honor this year’s recipients, and celebrate their leadership, professionalism and commitment to service. The Real Life Stories Program continues to highlight the importance of seeking professional advice and planning for the unexpected.”
The 2017 Life Happens Real Life Stories award recipients are:
- Steven Bakouris, CFP, CHS, The Great-West Life Assurance Company, Canada: Dore Bakouris was 27, recently married and a new mom when she suddenly started suffering from severe headaches. Given that she had no previous health issues, she went to the emergency room and got a CT scan. Doctors gave her the devastating news that she had a brain tumor. Within a week, she had surgery to remove what was thought to be an egg-sized tumor when the doctors discovered a malformation of blood vessels that had been bleeding into her head and almost lost her during the operation. Dore survived, but she lost her peripheral vision, had cognitive impairments and suffered a stroke. Thankfully, Dore had obtained disability insurance and critical illness insurance at a young age given that her husband, Steven, was an insurance professional. This helped to alleviate the financial stress, replacing her income, and allowing them to move closer to family. To see more, watch the video at www.lifehappens.org/bakouris.
- Greg Call, AXA, Boise, Idaho: Sherri and John Horsley loved running their own bakery because it gave them flexibility to spend time with their two young sons, Nate and Dave. Sherri’s boundless enthusiasm made her the perfect host, while John gravitated to the behind-the-scenes baking. Soon after opening the bakery, the couple met with insurance professional Greg Call to make sure their business was protected. After their initial meeting, Sherri increased her life insurance coverage thanks to a gap that Greg identified. As the business grew, Sherri and John met with Greg annually to review their life insurance needs. Then one year, just as the holiday rush was upon them, Sherri discovered she had breast cancer. Sherri bravely battled the disease while running the bakery and going to school for her Master’s in family counseling. While she experienced a period of remission, the cancer returned and took her life at just 45 years old. Life insurance afforded John and the children time to grieve, as well as the time to find a buyer for the business so that John, Nate and Dave could move closer to family. To see more, watch the video at www.lifehappens.org/horsley.
- Leila Martinez, State Farm, Eagle, Colo.: Roberto Loera left his homeland of Mexico to live and work in Colorado in order to provide a better life for his wife, Maria, and their two boys. Roberto spent years working in the ski resorts during high season and traveling back to Mexico to be with his family during the off season. When his wife and sons secured U.S. visas, Roberto shared the joyous news with his State Farm agent staff member, Leila Martinez, and the two discussed the need for Roberto to protect his family’s future. Roberto was quick to understand the importance of the coverage since Maria would not be working, and was able to put a policy in place for less than $20 a month. Less than a year after the family was reunited, Roberto learned that his frequent, terrible headaches were the result of a brain tumor. Roberto had surgery but nine months later, doctors found that the tumor had reappeared and gave him the news that he only had months to live. Roberto passed away at age 47, two days after receiving his American citizenship. Roberto’s life insurance policy gave his family the financial support to allow time to grieve and cover funeral costs. The coverage also helped pay for medical bills, day-to-day expenses and even a college savings account for the boys. To see more, watch the video at www.lifehappens.org/loera.
- Paul Miller, LUTCF, Southern Farm Bureau, Hillsboro, Texas: Jamey and Robyn Koonsman and their daughters, Hope and Jordyn, shared a love of the land, stock shows and rodeos. Hope loved nothing more than showing steers and truly owned the ring when she was in it, while Jordyn took a shine to riding. The Koonsman family experienced the unthinkable when Hope died unexpectedly at just 19 years old as a result of a birth defect the family thought was long in the past. It was fortunate that the couple had done life insurance planning early on with their insurance professional Paul Miller. Jamey and Robyn not only bought a combination of permanent and term life insurance for themselves, but they also purchased permanent life insurance for both girls and planned to gift the policies to the girls once grown. The family was able to use Hope’s policy to pay medical bills and start a foundation in her honor. The family’s hardship was compounded by Robyn’s ongoing fight with breast cancer. After battling the disease for eight years, Robyn passed away at age 37, less than two years after Hope died. In the wake of her death, life insurance did what it was meant to: pay for medical bills and funeral expenses, and allowed Jamey and Jordyn (pictured at top of page) to continue living in their home without financial concerns. Jordyn has also been able to pursue rodeo riding, which has sustained her through these tragedies. To see more, watch the video at www.lifehappens.org/koonsman.
Life Happens is accepting applications for its 2018 Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program now through October 31, 2017. Licensed insurance professionals and their teams are encouraged to visithttp://www.lifehappens.org/reallifeto submit their best client success story or to learn more about the Real Life Stories program.
About Life Happens: Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. The organization does not endorse any product, company or insurance advisor. Since its inception in 1994, Life Happens has provided the highest quality, independent and objective information for people seeking help with their insurance buying decisions. The organization supports the insurance industry by providing marketing tools and resources and convening the industry each September for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Life Happens is supported by more than 140 of the nation’s leading insurance company and financial services organizations. To learn more, visit www.lifehappens.org.