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Home for the Holidays: The Winners

Academy Mortgage hosted a contest in which participants could win a chance to spend their 2015 holiday season with loved ones, providing them with economy airfare to go – or to bring someone – home for the holidays. By having participants create two-minute videos describing what they love about being Home for the Holidays, posting their videos to YouTube (or to Academy’s Facebook page using #votemehome), and telling us their stories, we accrued enough material – and votes – to select our lucky winners! Read all about their stories below!

James Badham only needed a single one-way ticket, from the Philippines to Utah, for adopting a Filipino son of age four – and for giving this little boy an entirely new life. Academy brought this journey to fruition, allowing James’s new son passage to a better quality of life. The Badhams welcomed their new little brother into the fold, spending the holidays with him, getting to know him, and helping him to acclimate to a life with them – and in America.

Shawn Richards, a graduate of Academy’s Mortgage Career Development Program, and now one of our treasured loan originators, wanted to invite his mother, Diana, living in Salt Lake City, to visit him, in Vancouver, Washington – an accommodation that Academy was happy to arrange. For over two weeks, Shawn enjoyed the company and comfort of his mom during the holidays.

Becca Shelly’s husband, Rick, an officer in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in Hawaii, was flown from the Aloha State to the Peach State – and from December to January, he relished the rare opportunity to celebrate the holidays with his family (Becca and their two daughters, ages ten and five) in Georgia, before ultimately returning to his military duties in Oahu. Academy appreciates all of our service men and women whose immense sacrifices protect our nation daily; we hope this small gesture is accepted as our way of thanking Rick Shelly, Jr., for his contribution!

Stephen Galucki and his wife, Manaseh, residents of Tennessee and clients of Academy since first mortgaging their home, were awarded an entire week of nostalgic Christmastime bliss by way of tickets for a much-needed getaway to New Hampshire, which both had asked of Academy earlier. There, he and his wife spent time with family without breaking the bank; after all, new homes are expensive, but so is travel!

Mary Marbley retired and moved to South Carolina just two years ago, but upon arriving, she found she wasn’t quite ready for the change; having been physically attacked just a year into retirement, and nearly losing her life in the process, Mary was – of course – traumatized. She decided that a move from Maryland to SC might help her healing process, but since then, she’s realized more than ever the importance of family: her daughter and two grandchildren back in Maryland, with whom she could now – because of Academy – spend Christmas (a first with Mary’s two-year-old grandson).

Christina Mendoza-Green’s mother, Beverly Mendoza (of Academy’s Mesa East branch), along with Beverly’s husband, Marcelino, were provided tickets to visit Christina and the two grandchildren they had never before met! From Arizona to Georgia and back, they were flown to spend a few days, including Christmas, with their daughter and grandkids.

Kristy Soares, a recent Academy client who acquired her first home through us, wanted to welcome her boyfriend’s aunt, Tamara, into their new home for a holiday visit; though his aunt was merely one member of a family whom he had not seen in over three years, Academy made such a golden reunion possible, flying Tamara from Georgia to California. While initially planning a Christmastime visit, they ultimately rescheduled her visit, but nonetheless reconnected family long separated.

Thiago Bahia asked Academy, on behalf of Sofia Chaparro, for passage to Texas from her residence in Pennsylvania. Known as Aunty Sofie to her young nephew, Kye, Sofia was able to make Thiago’s wish a reality when Academy flew her into town to spend precious time with her family.

Steven Amos and his wife, Jessica, currently pursuing her master's in clinical counseling, wanted to surprise their family in Jacksonville with a visit, including an introduction to their never-before-met granddaughter. But with schooling and all the other bills relentlessly piling up, the two rarely had the money – or the time – to do so, that is, until Academy picked them as Home for the Holidays winners! Flying from Toledo, Jessica successfully flabbergasted her Jacksonville relatives and connected them with their new grandchild – an adventure that none of them are likely to forget!

Bunny Schriever had not seen her eight siblings in about seven years – that is, until Academy threw in for a ticket to fly Bunny out to her family in Wisconsin for the holidays! Sacrificing a great deal for her family, including an oft-deployed military husband who retired and struggled to find employment after his discharge, Bunny deserves – at least in Academy’s eyes – a trip to reunite with her family, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Mark Lindsay II, self-described goofball, loves having fun – but more importantly, having fun with his family. Currently, that wasn’t the case, however, as he lives on the other side of the nation, but he wanted to see them for Christmas 2015. Academy made his wish come true, flying Mark to his family’s home across the United States for the holidays.