Every parent wants the same thing for their children — the opportunity to be happy and succeed. My son Adam was born with Spina bifada, a developmental disorder of the spine, and my wife and I feared we wouldn’t be able to give our son that opportunity and that he might not have the future he deserves. Today, he’s a Paralympic gold medalist.
Adam’s birth came with the uncertainty that many parents of special needs children feel. In our case, the doctors prepared us for the worst: Adam may never walk, he might be cognitively disabled, he might not survive. The future I’d imagined for my son was in doubt, and in that moment, as a parent, I felt powerless. But, when we knew he would make it, we promised to do everything in our power to help him not just survive, but thrive.
It wasn’t easy. Between treatment, equipment, therapy and surgeries, my wife and I worried how we would pay for it all. By the time Adam was just three years old, he’d had 10 surgeries. Costs were accumulating, and we simply didn’t have the assets. I didn’t have equity in my home. Tampering with our 401(k) could jeopardize our retirement. We needed a plan, so I turned to our insurance agent Tom Waring.
Whole life to the rescue
I’ve known Tom since we were in high school, and he became my agent soon after I started working as an assistant supermarket manager, before I met my wife Sandy. I had moved home to Buffalo, N.Y., where Tom had gotten a job as an agent selling life insurance for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). He said he wanted to talk to me about my financial future, so we ended up meeting for a slice of pizza.
At that point, I was a 21-year-old kid who hadn’t given life insurance a moment’s thought. Still, I had a clear vision for my future, and I knew I would eventually start a family. Tom understood that while I wasn’t an ideal candidate for traditional term life insurance, the flexibility of a whole life policy could help protect my family while building up a cash value that I could access if needed. He made my decision easy. I purchased a whole life policy from Tom.
The value of that decision was made clear years later as we faced piles of bills for Adam’s medical care. Tom showed us that the cash value of our whole life policies could provide financial relief in the near term (although accessing cash values would reduce the life insurance benefit). I had a check within two days.
Over the years, our whole life policies helped us cover necessary medical expenses and finance new and rewarding experiences for Adam, especially his love of ice hockey.