For assistant data marketing analyst Vanessa Ray, there’s nothing more important in life than caring for others. “I’m extremely motivated by helping people,” says Vanessa. “I want to feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s day.” This passion for serving others shows up in many areas of Vanessa’s life, from her contributions at Pearl to her various volunteer activities outside of the office.
Happiness Is… Having Great Coworkers
Before landing a job at Pearl, Vanessa worked at another insurance company where she learned all about mutual funds and 401(k)s. “When I saw an opening at Pearl in life and health insurance, I thought it would be a great fit.” With her previous experience and knowledge, Vanessa was able to secure a position in Pearl’s affinity department.
Accepting a job with Pearl turned out to be a great decision for Vanessa, who thrives in a people-oriented environment. “The thing I love most about my job at Pearl is the people I get to collaborate with daily,” expresses Vanessa. “My coworkers are all amazing, and my team is just fabulous.” Vanessa also appreciates the family atmosphere Pearl provides. “It’s one of my favorite things about working here,” she says.
A Journey to Wellness
In addition to working as an assistant data marketing analyst, Vanessa serves on Pearl’s wellness committee. “I joined the committee because I was on my own wellness journey,” Vanessa explains. “I wanted to help set up fun events for people that could assist them in creating healthy habits and promote more movement. As office workers, many of us struggle with a sedentary lifestyle.”
Vanessa is passionate about her own health too. She’s educated herself on healthy habits and has taken steps to improve her well-being. “I’ve taken anatomy and physiology courses and have done my own research to educate myself on the heart,” explains Vanessa. “It’s said that sitting all day can cause obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat around the waist. These are things I don’t want to experience, and I want to keep my body healthy to avoid problems in future years.” Acquiring this knowledge and putting in some hard work has really paid off for Vanessa. “I’m proud to say that I’ve lost 98 pounds!”
A Heart for Helping Others
In addition to helping people become healthier versions of themselves, Vanessa is passionate about raising money for families and children who are dealing with unfathomable hardships.
This passion started with the Brad Wallin Memorial Baseball Tournament. The five-day tournament honors the life of Brad Wallin, a baseball-loving kid who succumbed to osteosarcoma, a rare form of childhood bone cancer. The money raised during the tournament supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“Brad is from my hometown of Chillicothe, Ill.,” explains Vanessa. “He was a few years younger than me in school. Whenever the tournament comes around, I always try to donate and buy a shirt to support the cause.” Since 2008, the tournament has raised a grand total of $1 million for St. Jude.
Wanting to do even more, Vanessa decided to begin participating in the St. Jude Runs. “I run the Mackinaw to Peoria Run with a few girls from work, and it really fills my cup and gets me connecting with people,” says Vanessa. “I can’t see myself not running for St. Jude. As long as I’m physically able, I will be running and raising money. I one day hope I can be conditioned enough to run the St. Jude Memphis to Peoria Run.”
Since its 1982 inception, the St. Jude Runs have raised over $66 million to help further the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “One of my favorite things about St. Jude is that families don’t ever have to worry,” Vanessa says. “They never receive a bill, and they don’t have to worry about lodging costs or food while they’re in treatment in Memphis.”
When she’s not working, Vanessa loves spending time with her family. “I’m married to my fabulous husband Zach, and we have a 4-year-old named Waylon,” Vanessa says. “We are expecting baby No. 2 in early December!” Vanessa also has two dogs, Roxie and Harlee, and an ornery kitten named Brownie.
Vanessa and her family live in Chillicothe, where they’ve been since 2014. “I love the small-town vibe and the fact that we can drive our golf cart on the road!” She also involves her family in some of her fitness activities. “I love being outdoors, so we go hiking a lot,” she says.
A Motto to Live By
Vanessa understands that life, unfortunately, is never guaranteed. That drives her to not only help others who are struggling, but also, to make sure she’s living her life well. “If I had a motto to live by,” says Vanessa, “it would be to live every day like it’s your last.”
We agree, Vanessa, and it’s very clear to all of us at Pearl that you are succeeding at doing just that.