Hamilton Insurance Agency and the Visual Bucket List Foundation are working together to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for visually impaired kids to create lasting visual memories. To vote for them, use the social media buttons to share this story, or leave a comment below. If they reach 500 votes, the $5,000 donation they’ve already earned doubles to $10,000!
Seeing the world before it goes dark
Lizzy Myers was just five years old when she was diagnosed with Usher syndrome, a rare genetic disease that causes progressive hearing and vision loss. Her parents, Christine and Steve Myers, learned she could become blind by her teenage years.
They decided to create a “visual bucket list” — a list of things they wanted her to see and experience before her vision diminishes, ranging from simple pleasures, like catching fireflies in their Ohio backyard, to grand adventures, like sight-seeing in Europe. After Lizzy’s story was picked up by news outlets worldwide, well-wishers from around the globe pitched in to fund an all-expenses-paid trip for Lizzy’s family to travel to Rome.
“We wanted other kids in the same circumstances as Lizzy to have a once-in-a-lifetime visual experience before their world goes dark.”
— Steve Myers, co-founder of the VBLF
“We were so grateful for the outpouring of generosity from strangers,” said Steve. “We wanted other kids in the same circumstances as Lizzy to have a once-in-a-lifetime visual experience before their world goes dark.” As a way to give back, he and Christine formed the VBLF, which gives visually impaired youth unique experiences based on their own personal visual bucket list and capabilities.
Looking after their community
Lizzy’s family has been serving the insurance needs of their community for three generations. Christine is CFO at Hamilton Insurance Group, Inc. and Lizzy’s grandpa, Neil Hamilton, owns the agency. Two of Lizzy’s uncles — Brian and Michael Hamilton —work at the agency, too.
With a personal connection to the foundation’s mission, Hamilton Insurance Group has supported the VBLF from the start, providing office space, financial backing and a prominent sign outside the agency. The agency’s support has enabled the foundation to increase its visibility and effectiveness within the community.
Neil serves on the foundation’s board, providing professional knowledge. Brian and Michael volunteer at the organization’s major fundraisers and even pitch in to help make grant recipients’ wishes come true. A number of other agency staff members volunteer their time to the VBLF as well.
Lighting up a child’s eyes
The foundation has sent kids on a dinosaur dig in South Dakota, to meet the Navy’s Blue Angels in Florida and on a VIP trip to Disney World. More recently, they’ve also made dreams come true closer to home.
In 2020 the foundation heard about a local girl, Morgan Cook, who was undergoing many surgeries to save what little vision she had. Traveling was not a safe option for her because of her surgeries, so her parents devised a plan with the foundation to build Morgan her very own “She Shed” — a space of her own, outfitted for her interest and impairments.
On the day Morgan saw her shed for the first time, she was all grins. The small acts of kindness and generosity of others added up to make a big difference in the 13-year-old’s life. “There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing pure joy and excitement in a child’s face,” says Christine.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing pure joy and excitement in a child’s face.”
– Christine Myers, CFO at Hamilton Insurance Group, Inc. and VBLF co-founder
Spreading more joy
As a small organization, the VBLF currently has the means to provide a personalized experience to only one child every other year. A Make More Happen Award would enable them to help another visually impaired child create a lasting, vivid memory this year.
If your agency volunteers with a 501(c)3 nonprofit, learn how you can win a Make More Happen Award here.