13:46 PM

Big dreams yield big rewards

Competition helps equip schools with much-needed gear


A recent competition sponsored by American Family Insurance, challenged high school students and adults in their communities to be more active. Find out who won the American Family High School Challenge and how the money will be used.

Consider it some holiday cheer that was well earned. About 33 high schools nationwide participated in the American Family High School Challenge, tracking their workouts in the Map My Fitness app. Schools with the highest participation in each category (small, medium or large) won $20,000 each in Under Armour gear.

“This program is one more way we’re making a difference in our customers’ communities,” says Julie Schaubroeck, associate vice president of brand and consumer marketing at American Family Insurance. “We’re encouraging people to pursue their health and fitness passions, and go after big dreams.”

Getting the word out

“When I first heard about the challenge, I wondered about the chances of West Salem High School winning,” says American Family agent Jim Quinn. A lifelong resident and a graduate of the school, Jim immediately started promoting the program.

He wasn’t alone.

Jordan Gilge, the school’s athletic director, also saw the potential for success. “In a time of tight budgets, any funding for extracurricular activities is very valuable,” he says. Jordan promoted the challenge on the school’s Facebook page and made daily announcements for the first couple weeks.

Shortly after the challenge was announced, American Family agent Jason Lassen of Holmen, Wisconsin, contacted Jim to see how they could coordinate on promotion. Jim contacted local business owners to encourage them to spread the word and participate. “If I met people walking down the street, I’d tell them about the challenge,” he says.

The result? Participants helped lead West Salem to victory in the small school category. Jason and Jim presented the check at a boys’ basketball game in early December. West Salem plans to use the money to buy new uniforms for its teams.

Helping out in a time of ‘desperate need’

Lakeside High School in Ashtabula, Ohio, won the challenge in the medium school category. To help build awareness, Greg Zannelli, Lakeside’s athletic director, relied on students to help promote the event. The Student Athletic Leadership Team rallied participants, while Greg posted information about the challenge on the athletic department’s website and in the school’s Twitter feed.

Knowing certain teams are in “desperate need” of gear, Greg says the money will be spent on warmup uniforms for the track team.

American Family agent Darren Ryan of Jefferson, Ohio presented a check to Greg during halftime of a boys’ basketball game. Darren also donated about 200 American Family shirts, footballs and other promotional items that were given away at halftime.

“We are very grateful to American Family for their sponsorship of this challenge,” Greg says. “Without it, we would not be able to afford some of the things our teams really need.”

Winners of the American Family High School Challenge

Small school: West Salem High School, West Salem, Wisconsin

Medium-size school: Lakeside High School, Ashtabula, Ohio

Large school: Lanier High School, Austin, Texas

American Family High School Challenge at a Glance

Total participants:  16,136

Total workouts: 309,210

Total miles: 1,002,198

Total hours: 114,743