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A summer full of Buckys


AmFam employee Laurie Vogt visited 85 life-size Bucky Badger statues this summer throughout Madison, Wisconsin, while wearing a coordinating costume, to help honor her son, Jeremy.

I guess I’m just a kid at heart.

When I first heard about Bucky on Parade, a free public art event featuring 85 life-size Bucky Badger statues decorated by local artists and placed throughout the Madison area, I thought: “Now there’s a challenge! 85 Buckys!”

Could I visit them all?

I had been feeling a little down since losing my son Jeremy last year, and I thought maybe working toward this goal would help me feel better. My first visit to a statue was on Mother’s Day with my son Chris. It was a hard day for both of us, but it was something to do.

After looking at the pictures when I got home, I thought, “These are boring, I don't even have Badger clothes on.” So on my next visit to a statue, with my husband, Brian, right after Memorial Day, I wore Badger red. But the pictures still looked boring.

After looking at an insert that came in the Sunday paper, the wheels started churning. Maybe I could dress like the statues. I started gathering clothes and other items around the house, and asking friends for other things I needed.

June 1 was the 42nd anniversary of my high-school graduation, so I borrowed my son’s cap and gown and got a picture with the Graduation Bucky. We took a few more pictures with additional outfits I had with me.

It became all I could think about. “What can I do to match this Bucky?” My sister Joann came with for most excursions. Other photographers were my friends and coworkers Kari Juedes and JoAnn Gallagher, my grandson Casey and my husband.

I enjoyed sharing my latest Bucky pictures on Facebook. On July 3 I received a call that Channel 15 wanted to interview me by one of the statues. Thinking of what costumes I had in the car, I agreed to meet at the Vials against Cancer Bucky. A coworker, Stephanie Bass Faust, came with me.

I later found out that JoAnn Gallagher had contacted the station. In my interview, I mentioned that I wanted to reach my 60th Bucky on my 60th birthday. I had a lot to do to accomplish my goal, but I made it. I built up the suspense to that 60th Bucky.

Because my plan was to go to New York for my 60th birthday, I built a scenario around being on the fictional “Bucky Now” show and trying to get picked for the their version of the Today Show’s Ambush Makeover. My family joined in, holding signs by the Broadcaster Bucky, while I was dressed in a witch costume. That was Bucky No. 59. Bucky No. 60 was the big reveal by the Class Act Bucky where I was dressed in evening wear. My family tried to act surprised by the change.

I also paid tribute to my son Jeremy on his birthday by first getting a picture by the Picasso Bucky with a piece of Jeremy’s art work and a paint palette that read, “Missing you on your birthday.” The second Bucky was the Bright Idea Bucky due to Jeremy’s love of writing. I created a T-shirt with some quotes I copied ironed on. I also asked friends and family to sign the shirt.

Of course, one of my favorite Buckys was Spark a Dream, which has now moved to its permanent home at AmFam’s Spark building. My costume for this Bucky consisted of an AmFam shirt. I also held my chalkboard that contained my dream of riding in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Since that dream has been achieved I also included a Certificate of Achievement which I got from DreamBank.

I ended the parade with a bang as my sister and friends joined in for the grand finale with sparklers and fireworks by the final Bucky I visited on John Nolen Drive.

While visiting all 85 statues with coordinating outfits was a challenge, I will say that it was a fun summer with the Bucky on Parade.

I was even fortune enough to get my picture in the Bucky coffee table book.


AmFam's role in Bucky on Parade 

Bucky on Parade celebrated Wisconsin’s love for Bucky Badger, highlighted local artists and raised funds for Garding Against Cancer and the Madison Area Sports Commission. As a sponsor, American Family has its own 6-foot-tall Bucky statue, called “Spark a Dream.” Painted by local artist Barbara Westfall, “Spark a Dream” represents our mission to inspire, protect and restore dreams as well as our dedication to the people we serve, our UW-Madison partnership and philanthropy.

“Spark a Dream” was originally located near DreamBank, in downtown Madison. Then, it moved to the Spark building, a location dedicated to innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship.To add even more to the charitable aspect of American Family's sponsorship, each time someone posted of photo of him or herself on Twitter with our "Spark A Dream" Bucky statue and tagged it #BuckyonParade and #AmFamBucky, the American Family Dreams Foundation donated an additional $5 to Garding Against Cancer.

About American Family Insurance

Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance group is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 311 on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General and Homesite) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the internet or by phone. Affiliate Main Street America sells insurance products through independent agents. Web; Facebook; Twitter