How Jamie Pollard Inspired My Family

by Adam Steen | November 7, 2019

Jamie Pollard, Director of Athletics at Iowa State University, has a big job! But his story of being a man of faith and family runs deeper than any Iowa State Athletic activity or event. 

I, along with coworkers Johnne Syverson and Wayne Johnson, attended the Mid-Iowa Planned Giving Council Conference (MIPGC) in late October. Syverson Strege showed its ongoing support to nonprofits and philanthropy by being one of the sponsors of the event. Jamie Pollard was the keynote speaker for the lunch session. 

One of the perks of being a sponsor for the MIPGC is an opportunity to introduce one of the conference speakers and gain some publicity (i.e. a mini-commercial for your company). I was scheduled to introduce the morning keynote, whom I did not know well, but one day before the conference, I was asked by Johnne if I would like to introduce Jamie Pollard instead. I was pleasantly surprised and excited to have the opportunity, as Jamie Pollard had been an inspiration to me and my family at a critical moment in my family’s life. 

Over four years ago, my wife and I attended the Variety Black Tie Gala where we heard speakers Jamie Pollard and his son, James. One month prior, we had received the life-altering news that our baby boy, Ryker, had been diagnosed with Joubert Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that would change the course of our lives. 

At the Gala, Jamie and James gave an awesome speech about faith, what drives them, and their experiences with James’ diagnosis of cancer at birth. Jamie and his wife were continually given frustrating news about the future for James, but they did not let this discourage them. Today, James is thriving! It was at that event, my wife and I made the commitment to reach for a whole new level of faith to equip us for our trial ahead. 

Back to the introduction. I went up to Jamie shortly before his speech at the MIPGC and let him know I planned to introduce him differently than he might expect. Instead of the usual corporate sponsor commercial, I told the story of how the Pollard’s story challenged my wife and me to increase our level of faith as we began the journey of the unknown with Ryker.

Jamie, his son, and his family, have been a key inspiration for us to tackle this diagnosis head on with faith, determination, strength, and hope. 

Jamie spoke about the “why” behind fundraising campaigns and the importance of supporting a cause that is dear to your heart. Thanks Jamie Pollard for being both a personal inspiration, but also a philanthropic inspiration to all who attended the MIPGC conference! As a bonus, a few days after the conference, we were surprised and thrilled to receive a package from Jamie with a personal note and Iowa State shirts for our two boys…truly amazing!