The following article appears courtesy of Tiffany Kallinikos, Communications Assistant with Intact Financial Corporation and originally apperared in the employee intranet.
Making wishes come true
Ken Serr is a Certified Financial Planner and a team lead of a Financial Services team at Intact Financial Corporation in Alberta. But perhaps the greatest leadership role he’s ever taken has nothing to do with his professional life. Since 2006, Ken Serr has been working to help make the wishes of children that are ill become a reality, through The Children’s Wish Foundation of Medicine Hat. The Children’s Wish Foundation is an organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.
In 1996 Ken’s daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Ken became familiar with The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, when his daughter was granted a wish by the organization two years later. “We started getting involved in 2006,” says Ken. “My daughter was doing quite well at the time; she was married and had kids. She was involved too. We just wanted to give back.” When Ken first got involved with the organization’s Medicine Hat chapter, most of its fundraising was run by a radio station. When the radio station stepped aside, Ken and his wife, Donna took on the responsibility of giving exposure to the organization in the community. His wife became the chair of The Children’s Wish Foundation for Medicine Hat and together, they have taken on anywhere from four to six wishes per year.
Ken recalls a story of a 16 year-old girl that was HIV positive. Her wish was to go to a fancy spa and buy make up and clothes. But the Calgary chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation went above and beyond and not only granted her wish, but got her a limo to ride in and a camera to document her day. “When you spend a day with kids like that, it pulls at your heart strings,” says Ken. “The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada has never turned down an eligible child for a wish. Ever.”
Sadly, in February 2009, Ken’s daughter passed away. But that hasn’t stopped Ken from granting the wishes of kids in his hometown. “My daughter was very musical,” says Ken. “The year she passed away we got together some performers that she sang with and put on an evening of music, food and a silent auction. We raised $30,000.” All of the money raised that day was donated back to grant wishes for other children in need.
Intact Financial Corporation's little way of helping
Ken and his wife have taken on full responsibility of the Medicine Hat chapter. They run the organization out of their home, paying for everything from their phone to office supplies to make sure every dime raised goes to granting children’s wishes.
As an employee of BrokerLink, a subsidiary of Intact Financial Corporation, Ken took full advantage of the company’s Volunteer Matching Gifts program. Each year, this program allows employees to generate $500 in support of registered charities when they volunteer 40 or more hours of their own time.
The funds from the Intact Foundation were added to funds raised from the Wishes in the Park event held in summer 2011, which raised a total of $25,000. “I was putting in the hours anyway so it was almost a no-lose situation. I really do appreciate the help,” says Ken.
Pictured above: Ken Serr with his wife Donna Serr and their grandchildren, Micah and Levi Ferguson at the Family Fun and Flight event in Medicine Hat where admission, by donation, benefitted Children's Wish.