Gradient Gives Back Gives Topeka's Seidel Family Early Christmas Surprise

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In addition to a year of mortgage payments

from Gradient Gives Back, several local

businesses donated gifts to the family:

Abigail’s ($20 gift card)

Aboud’s (Catered meal during announcement)

Bed Bath and Beyond ($40 gift card)

Buffalo Wild Wings (Party Package of wings and Sauces)

CAGE Gymnastics (open gym passes)

Captured Moments by Christina (family photo session and two 8x10 prints)

Certus ($50 gas card)

Chili’s ($15 gift card)

Chipotle (free burritos and coupons)

Coldstone (free ice cream)

Debbie Baumgartner (Topeka Zoo Membership and giraffe feedings)

Discovery Center (yearly family membership)

Henry T’s ($10 gift card)

Home Depot (Christmas Tree)

Hyvee ($40 gift card)

Jason’s Deli (3 free subs)

Kim Caniano from NJ ($50 in cash)

McDonald’s ($40 gift card)

Mid West Barber College (two free haircuts)

New Century Credit Union ($100 gift card)

Old Chicago (Free pizza)

Performance Tire ($50 gift card)

Planet Sub (free subs)

PT’s Coffee (bag of coffee and a mug)

Sams Club ($25 gift card)

SportZone (gift certificate)

The Spectacle (complimentary eye exams and complimentary pair of glasses for any family members who need prescription eyewear)

Wal Mart ($50 gift card)

Walgreen’s ($50 gift card and basket of items)

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Seidel family had no idea what was in store when staff at Gradient Insurance Brokerage opened a door at their Topeka offices to reveal a waiting crowd.

The words, "You've won," and the resulting applause sent David and Leslie Seidel dissolving in tears, then embracing their children, Jordan and Jessica.

What they won was a year's worth of mortgage payments from the Gradient Gives Back Foundation.

Still in shock, Leslie said, "It's just a burden lifted off our shoulders."

The burden began several years ago. The Seidel's son Jordan, 13, lives with a rare stomach disease. Daughter Jessica, now 17, captured the community's hearts as a middle schooler at Washburn Rural battling a rare blood cancer.

Five years in remission, Jessica says she knows the sacrifices her family made. She says she could see the stress it put on her parents and she recalls Jordan being afraid to ask about participating in certain activities that might cost money. To see them be able to relax, she says, means more to her than anything in the world.

The Seidels always planned to give back for all the generosity they were shown during Jessica's illness and had, in fact, made donations to a few charities. But then, David suffered an injury that left him unable to work. Leslie had left her job as a teacher years ago to care for Jessica during her illness.

David said it was difficult for him personally to have to ask for help since he wanted to be the one to provide for his family. He says he and Leslie would, at times, eat less and go to be hungry so that Jordan and Jessica could eat more.

"As a parent, you give things up for your kids," David said.

Gradient chose the family from hundreds of applicants nationwide. The program assists families who find themselves in dire circumstances beyond their control. Jeremy Swedlund, senior operations director for Gradient Insurance Brokerage in Topeka, says the hope is that by providing the year of rent or mortgage assistance, the family will get back on their feet. He says, reading the Seidel's application, they knew they were a special family.

The Seidels say thank you has never been enough - not for the kindness during Jessica's battle nor for the gift they received Wednesday. Leslie, who has gone back to work at the Security Benefit Academy childcare, says they tried to sell their home but were unsuccessful in the down economy. She says they are even more grateful now to know they can remain in the place "where we beat all kinds of obstacles."

Gradient Gives Back was started in 2009. The Seidels are the eleventh family assisted through the foundation.


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