Founded in 2015 by an 8-year-old girl battling cancer, Team Hailey Hugs runs donation drives and provides support and funding to children who are fighting the same fight as she was. The nonprofit continues to fundraise and raise awareness of childhood cancer.
In 2015, an 8-year-old girl named Hailey Steward from Bethel, Maine was battling cancer. Even though Hailey was fighting her own fight, putting a smile on other kids’ faces put a smile on hers, which is why she founded Team Hailey Hugs, a nonprofit dedicated to collecting donations, raising funds and promoting legislation related to childhood cancer.
Raising awareness and helping children
Since 2015, Wheelers Insurance has been directly involved with Team Hailey Hugs; CEO Michelle Walker serves as a board member of the nonprofit. Their mission was very close to home: multiple staff members of Wheelers Insurance have had children in their lives diagnosed with cancer. “We are a small, tight-knit community; we are all very familiar with the others around us, so a loss of a child to one is a loss to us all,” said Walker. All members of Wheelers Insurance volunteer for a nonprofit, and many employees have had repeated involvement in fundraising for Team Hailey Hugs.
“We are a small, tight-knit community; we are all very familiar with the others around us, so a loss of a child to one is a loss to us all.”
—Michelle Walker, CEO at Wheelers Insurance and board member at Team Hailey Hugs
After Hailey passed, her mother Tabitha Steward – known affectionately in the community as “Momma Bear” – was committed to advocating for children with cancer as the President of Team Hailey Hugs. The nonprofit works to fulfill the things that Hailey used to love to do to help others, including pajama drives, hat drives, offering gift cards to children and more.
Tabaitha has spent countless hours spending time with kids affected, while fundraising and working to pass bills in the state of Maine – one that made March the official Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and another that allows people to donate directly to Maine Children’s Cancer Research Fund when they file their state income taxes. “I will continue to fight this fight for the families, for funding, and to make sure she and so many others are remembered. Our kids deserve more; they deserve a cure,” said Steward.
“I will continue to fight this fight for the families, for funding and to make sure Hailey and so many others are remembered. Our kids deserve more; they deserve a cure.”
—Tabaitha Steward, president at Team Hailey Hugs
Contributing however they can
Wheelers Insurance works annually alongside Tabaitha and the rest of Team Hailey Hugs to put together the Go Gold Event every Labor Day weekend. These events help raise money for the nonprofit, offering a day of fun activities for children and families alike. After taking a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Go Gold Event was brought back in 2022 with a bang.
In addition to contributing to this event, the agency also regularly uses social media to spread the word about Team Hailey Hugs and their mission. The nonprofit has been Wheelers Insurance’s Referral Rewards Program partner for years, meaning every time the agency receives a referral, they make a donation to a nonprofit.
In support of such an important cause that affects and devastates so many families, employees of Wheelers Insurance have long been contributing to Team Hailey Hugs in whatever ways they are able. “We genuinely care about our community and want to help,” said Walker.
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