Our People
3 min read

Brightening Lives, One Book at a Time

A Progressive employee shares his family’s story

Our employees live out our purpose of moving forward and living fully every day. And sometimes that even carries into our personal lives, like when Jeff, a digital designer, created a book to help children undergoing long stays in the hospital.

Jeff’s story

Two years ago, Jeff's daughter Audriana became extremely ill with a rare brain bleed. It was a scary time for him and his family, but Audriana's life was saved when they operated on the part of her brain it affected.

"I was told that there were only two surgeons in the country that would operate in this sort of circumstance due to where on the brain it happened and the intricacy of the operation overall," says Jeff. "By nothing short of a miracle, one of the two surgeons was located in Tampa—where we live."

Audriana had a long road of recovery and therapy after surgery, which included a month-long hospital stay. Once Audriana was home and recovering, Jeff began thinking of ways to help other kids and families in similar situations.

He published a children's book called Daddies Bake Cakes Too! as baking is a bonding activity between him and his daughter. The funds from the copies of the book sold go directly to the Sprout Foundation Inc.—a foundation that provides a 'Bedroom in a Box' to kids dealing with long hospital stays, founded by Jeff and his friend.

How Progressive helped Jeff move forward and live fully

When Jeff got the call from his wife about Audriana, he was on his way back from taking his other three kids to school. After rushing to the hospital to be with his wife and daughter, he called his manager at the time and told her what was happening, that he wasn't sure what to do, and all he knew was that he couldn't come to work.

"I was told not to worry about anything work-related as the most important thing was being with my daughter," says Jeff. "I didn't log into work once during those couple of months, and my manager would ask me for updates on Audriana with my permission to share them with our team as everyone was thinking of us during this scary time."

Jeff expressed that not having to worry about his job, plus the love and kind words he received from coworkers, helped him focus on Audriana the way he needed to. When he came back to work months later, his inbox wasn't full of requests and project work—it was full of questions related to how his family was doing, his daughter's well-being, and what they could help him with while she continued to recover. He also received multiple gift cards from coworkers to help his family with meals and necessities.

"I don't know how everything got done without me, but I do know that I had so many people checking in on me during this time and helping me get acclimated back to my new way of life, and that meant everything," Jeff explains. "I was fortunate to come back to my job when I could, and I'm forever grateful for how it was handled."

How it’s all going now

Audriana is doing well and becoming an even better baker during her free time.

"She'll have annual checkups for multiple years to come, but she's slowly getting back to the things she knows and loves with great motivation during her healing journey," says Jeff. "I'm grateful for everyone that helped Audriana, myself, and my family get past these tough times."

Jeff's book has sold hundreds of copies since its release in June. He's received multiple images and videos of parents reading the book to their children, and even got word that one of the children claimed it's their new favorite! To Jeff, that's what it's all about.