Rogers Dreams Come True: Alanna’s Dream

At the 2013 Rogers Insurance Christmas celebration, Lee Rogers & Bruce Rabik announced the Dream winners for 2014. As employees waited in anticipation, there was distinct energy in the room as Bruce began reading one dream winners story:

 “My daughter had re-constructive skull surgery October 2012, at 9 mos. old.  It is now held together with plates & screws. Three months later I had to return to work, her Grandparents watch her now.  It is my dream to be a good mom, take some time off to be with her.”

After a tumultuous year, eighteen-year employee of Mooney Insurance, Alanna Angelstad sat with shock and joy when she realized the dream announced was hers.

Now two months into her dream, she works Monday to Wednesday and then spends the rest of the time being a mom to her daughters. Below is the letter she wrote about the program:

“My family and I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the staff that voted for my dream.  Having you choose my dream as the winner this year is truly life changing.  My daughters are my life and joy.  As you all know it is hard to describe your “Dream” in 50 words or less, so please bear with me as I explain a bit of our story.

When we found out about Arianna’s condition and the surgery she would have to endure it was heart breaking.  I blamed myself, although there was nothing we could have done.  It was a hard decision, but also an easy one because there was no choice.  If she did not have the surgery there was no room for her brain to grow.  To see our baby girl go through re-constructive skull surgery at nine months old is something no one can imagine.  It was a long eight hours that day in October.  The days following the surgery were just as bad, waiting for her swelling to go down, for her eyes to open.  I kept a photo of her on her bed stand so the nurses at the Alberta Children’s Hospital could see what a beautiful baby girl she was.  We were so thankful that she had a normal recovery and within 2 weeks we were home again.

Having to return to work just three months after her surgery, because my maternity leave was up and our financial situation would not allow me to take any more time off, was very hard on my family.  The stitches were still visible in Arianna’s tiny head, now held together with plates and screws.  She needs constant supervision and is in the care of my parents from 7:30am -5pm daily, a hard task for 2 senior citizens to run after a rambunctious little girl.  She learned to walk just 1 month after the surgery.  She is so full of life; she does not realize that she needs to be careful.  They have nicked named her “Tornado”; we describe her as the “Energizer Bunny” on steroids.  There is just no stopping her.

We continue to have doctors’ appointments because of a few issues that have come about but we have a terrific team of doctors and the staff at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary is awesome.  She is great care and hopefully things will start to settle down as she gets older.  Arianna is resilient and strong.  This experience has brought our family closer together, but it has also taken its toll. Being able to use my “dream” to slow things down a bit, to be a good mom and spend time with my daughters, Annika & Arianna is the greatest opportunity I have ever had.  To continue to work three days per week to keep my sanity, and have the extra days with my girls was the right fit for our family.  My parents and I are really enjoying this arrangement.  Being a parent is the most important “job” anyone could ever have.  Your kindness has changed our lives.

Since her “dream” commenced, Alanna has become a “hot lunch” mom at her older daughter Annika’s elementary school. With the help of Annika, every 3rd Thursday they cook and serve nine pans of lasagna (which has rightfully earned her the title of ‘Lasagna mom’.  “It feels so rewarding to hear the children in the corridors saying, ‘Oh there is Annika’s mom, the Lasagna mom,’” said Alanna. “It puts a smile on our faces to be able to do something together. She likes that mom can go on field trips with her and volunteer in the classroom.”

At this time Arianna is 28 months old; weighing in at a healthy 40lbs, 3ft tall and in the 99th percentile for height & weight. “She is very smart and is attending playschool with 3-4 year olds.  She has a very nice teacher who understands her situation and has great patience with her.  It is nice for me to just sit back and not having to hover over her,” says Alanna.

Though her pediatrician still closely monitors Arianna, she’s pleased with her progress. “Arianna is quite hyper active during the day and does not understand how to slow down, she has difficulty sleeping and can be hard on the family,” said Alanna, “But she is just so happy to be able to run and play, she does not want to stop!”

Since 2008, Rogers Insurance has disbursed upwards of $150k to support employees as they realize their dreams; anything from taking trips around the world to easing the financial burden of tough times (which is why the program continued even throughout the recession).

We’d like to sincerely thank Alanna and her family for unguardedly sharing their story and dream. She closed with, “I love watching her play with the other children, she is learning to interact and share.  We do not want to harness any of her spirit or energy, just let her be her.  Arianna is our miracle.”

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