The Importance of Diversity: Women Making a Mark in KC Business

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Haas & Wilkerson Insurance is proud to spread the word that Kimberly Wilkerson has been named one of the 2015 Influential Women of Kansas City Business by KC Magazine! It’s nice to see in print what we have known for years – Kimberly is a savvy and accomplished businesswoman who has revolutionized the way we do business. She joins a group of extraordinary local women in the pages of KC Magazine.

Kimberly is an Agency Principal and Vice President of Haas & Wilkerson Insurance. She joined as an active partner in 2008, transitioning quickly from a background in education into the insurance industry. As the granddaughter of founder Ralph Wilkerson and daughter of second generation leader Bill Wilkerson, Kimberly is part of a legacy of leadership.

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Go Royals! A Third Generation Legacy of Loyalty

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Last year's postseason success and nail-biting World Series competition brought the Kansas City Royals back to national prominence. Almost 30 years after their 1985 World Series win, the little team that could showed the world that teamwork and spirit could make amazing things happen. Their amazing feats re-invigorated the fans who have stayed loyal for all these years. It was a thrilling time to be a Kansas Citian and a Royals fan!

The 2015 season kicked off last Monday, April 6th, with a home game against the Chicago White Sox, and fans both locally and nationally have their eyes and hearts set on our hometown team's continued success. It's a testament to Kansas City's hometown pride that fans are rushing to fill the seats this season, resulting in much higher tickets prices on secondary markets, as Jesse Lawrence reports in Forbes. The Royals have a special place in our hearts at Haas & Wilkerson Insurance, and we can't wait to see what this season brings!

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SevenDays: Make a Ripple, Change the World

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A truly inspiring week-long event begins tomorrow in Kansas City. From April 7th to the 13th a community will come together to remember the tragic events of April 13th, 2014, and to build something good out of unimaginable evil. The event is called SevenDays. It is a creation of Mindy Corporon, who lost both her son and her father, and the LaManno family, who lost their mother Terri a year ago when a lone gunman, motivated by hate, opened fire at the Jewish Community Campus and Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas. 

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Attaining the Unattainable: Powerful Stories that Inspire

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The phrase “Not Dead… Can't Quit” is something that has stuck with me ever since I heard the story of Kyle Maynard, a world-class athlete, cross-fit trainer, author, and motivational speaker. It's a saying that he picked up from a Navy Seal, and it defined his climb up all 19,341 feet of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak. When the going got tough (and it got seriously tough), that phrase kept him going.

The climb up Mount Kilimanjaro is a grueling 15 day hike. It's a significant challenge for even the most experienced climbers who attempt the ascent. Kyle did it in 10 days, and he was born with arms that end at his elbows and legs that end at his knees. He is a congenital quadruple amputee who literally bear crawled his way up the mountain on all fours.

I'm pretty sure that I would have trouble doing the climb, and I have two arms and two legs that function fully. I couldn't even imagine Kyle doing it until I met him and heard his story in person.

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Risks and Rewards: Keeping Kids Safe at Family Entertainment Centers

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It's a familiar dilemma — parents stuck inside on a rainy day with kids who need a place to blow off some steam. When the playground is muddy and the basement's already a mess, what are your options? Cue the rise of the family entertainment center.

Trampoline courts, laser tag arenas, and indoor playground spaces give kids somewhere safe to play and ease parents' concerns about security, but family entertainment centers (FECs) come with unique risks. Parents and center owners that are aware of these risks and keep safety as a top priority keep fun safe.

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Big Brothers/Big Sisters: An Organization on the Move

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When I think about how Haas & Wilkerson can make a lasting difference in our community, I don't have to look much further than our partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City (BBBS). It is one of the most impactful not-for-profit organizations in our region. The organization has served more than 20,000 at-risk youth in the Kansas City metropolitan area since its start in 1964. 

How We're Involved

Kimberly Wilkerson, a co-owner and vice president of Haas & Wilkerson, and I have both been involved with and supporters of BBBS for many years. Kimberly currently serves on the board of BBBS. And thanks to their nomination, she was recently named a Rising Star by The Independent: Kansas City's Journal of Society. 

We also support BBBS throughout our organization. Many of our team members have been involved in the organization as Bigs and donors. As a company, we love bowling as part of the Summer Bowl for Kids Sake and playing in the annual Legacy Golf Tournament that benefits the organization. We are looking forward to March 24 when BBBS will be in our office recruiting Bigs as part of their March Matchness recruitment campaign. Everyone gets donuts and a free headshot by local photographer Rob Smith for participating!

An Inside Look 

Lives are changed by BBBS every day. Their programs serve our community's most vulnerable children (called Littles) who are growing up in one-parent homes. Matches are made with adults (called Bigs) who can give them additional emotional and social support. These one-on-one relationship are built on trust and friendship. Research studies show that kids who have positive adult influences in their lives are better able to reach their full potential. At BBBS, these one-to-one friendships between Bigs and Littles last a minimum of one year with the average match lasting 27 months, which is significantly longer than the national average match length of 20 months.

“Children growing up in one-parent homes are at more than five times greater risk of living in poverty than children growing up in two parent homes.”

BBBS offers at-risk youth a long-term developmental relationship with a caring adult. Bigs serve as friends, mentors, and role models to the Littles. They are instrumental in helping youth gain greater self-confidence and leadership skills. This model has been proven effective in changing the self-image of children and therefore their behavior.

BBBS's results are phenomenal. According to data collected in 2012 from youth who matched with a Big:

•        96% report no alcohol or drug abuse.
•        93% said they have learned new things since being matched with their Big.
•        84% say that they feel better about whom they are.
•        81% report that they have developed new interests since being matched.

New Digs for Awesome Kids

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In early 2015, BBBS opened their new Kansas City headquarters located at 1709 Walnut Street in the Crossroads District of Kansas City, MO. Their new space will allow for growth over the coming years. It is taking their already exceptional environment for kids to the next level. 

The new space is phenomenal! Some of the highlights of their new location include:

  • A Children’s Lounge
  • Auditorium-Style Learning Center
  • Event Space
  • Rooftop Terrace
  • Donor Brick Walkway (in front of the building)

How You Can Help

We encourage you to consider becoming a Big and get directly involved with an at-risk youth in our community. BBBS currently has about 500 Littles waiting to be matched and their waiting list grows every day.

2015 is the year to ‪#‎BeABig‬! I hope you will consider getting involved in our community through BBBS. It's a great way to ensure the future of Kansas City! 

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Steeped in Tradition: An Inside Look at the American Royal

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If you ask an out-of-towner what they know about Kansas City, you're likely to hear about one thing — world-class barbecue. A few might mention jazz or the Royal's recent compelling attempt at the World Series title, but there's no denying that Kansas City's national reputation is built on our history as a livestock hub. At the center of that history is one of my favorite local institutions, the American Royal.

A Royal History

From its humble beginnings as a Hereford cattle show held in a tent in the Kansas City Stockyards in 1899, the American Royal has grown to include horse shows, rodeos (both professional and youth), and the American Royal World Series of Barbecue®. Since the initial event in 1980, this barbecue competition has grown into the largest in the world, with over 500 teams spread over 54 acres competing against each other in multiple categories. Held every fall, the event draws competitors and visitors from around the country to Kansas City's historic Stockyards District.

The American Royal is a non-profit organization that, in addition to presenting cultural events, actively promotes American agriculture through education and competition. It reaches over 20,000 students each year through various programs and events. Just last year, the American Royal contributed over $1.4 million towards the future of agricultural education through a combination of scholarships, competitive prize monies, and educational awards. It is truly a cultural gem, a vital part of our regional heritage, and a great contributor towards a future that continues to value the spirit and practices of American agriculture.

A Family Connection

Every family has its' traditions and for the Wilkerson family, the American Royal is a big one. We have been involved for three generations now! I spent my childhood attending the Royal with my parents and grandparents, and now continue this tradition with my own family.

Both my sister Kim and I are American Royal Governors and love supporting the Royal in this way. We have the opportunity to attend many events each year, including the rodeo, horse shows, and the World Series of Barbecue. Becoming a Governor is a fantastic way to get involved with the American Royal community, support Kansas City's history and future, and get a taste of the western lifestyle. And with a Family Governorship, we're able to include our children in these events, carrying on a family tradition and hopefully raising future fourth-generation Governors!

Our family strongly believes in the mission and values of the American Royal. We are passionate about the need for agricultural education. As our society becomes more and more disconnected from the food that we eat, it is even more important to understand where our food comes from and to support the work of farmers and ranchers. We need to ensure that agriculture and agribusiness continue to draw educated and passionate students who will strengthen the field well into the future. The American Royal makes major contributions through its educational programs and outreach, and I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors and contribute to this important mission.

We're In the Rodeo Business

At Haas & Wilkerson, we not only attend the American Royal rodeo, we're in the rodeo business ourselves. Our Rodeo Division has been providing insurance solutions tailored to the unique needs of the rodeo, equine, and livestock industries for more than 30 years. Through our Specialty Program Insurors, we are able to proudly provide spectator event liability as well as accident coverage for contestants and volunteer workers. We are a full service agency handling all lines of coverage for rodeos including: property, inland marine, automobile, weather insurance/event cancellation, and animal mortality. By focusing on each client's potential exposures, we are able to satisfy their unique insurance needs. 

Support the American Royal

If you haven't been to an event at the American Royal, I highly encourage you to check it out. It's an entertaining and educational experience that highlights an important aspect of Kansas City's history and future. With a wide variety of events (explore the events calendar here), there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you'd like to play a bigger part in the American Royal community, look into their Governors program for access to even more events and membership perks. 

What's your favorite American Royal memory? Share by tweeting @haaswilkerson!

(Title images from kansascity.com and americanroyal.com)

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