November 30, 2015 / All Stories

When giving gets personal

At AbbVie, contributing to solve tough health challenges doesn’t just happen in our labs and offices – it’s also about how employees choose to give back.

At AbbVie, contributing to solve tough health challenges doesn’t just happen in our labs and offices – it’s also about how employees choose to give back.

For anyone who has witnessed a loved one lapse into confusion, reach for words that no longer come and face the frustrations of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, you understand the fierce desire to battle against it.

It’s a struggle Megan Agyeman, associate director, regulatory business solutions at AbbVie, knows well. Both of her grandparents suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and her family took on the caretaker role. “It is extremely hard to see my once socially outgoing grandfather become reserved out of fear he won’t recall someone’s name,” she says.

For Agyeman, the choice was obvious: the Alzheimer’s Association.

Working at AbbVie, our employees are highly attuned to specific difficult-to-cure diseases and the havoc they can wreak on individuals and their families. Our focus on improving the lives of patients leads to an opportunity for employees to “put their money where their passion is” as part of the AbbVie's annual employee giving campaign.

Ninety-two percent of AbbVie’s U.S. employees contributed during this year's giving campaign. The amount raised (including a match from the AbbVie Foundation) totaled $6 million, mainly designated for charitable organizations dealing with diseases.

Giving at heart

For Lizelle Obana, associate director, regulatory operations at AbbVie, the charity of choice was simple. “In 2002, my dad died of a massive heart attack at the young age of 52,” she says. “In retrospect, the risk factors were there: he was a smoker who had high blood pressure and cholesterol, and yet, you never think the worse will happen to a loved one until you are forced to face the harsh reality.”

Obana’s contribution was earmarked for the American Heart Association (AHA), because “the mission of the American Heart Association gives me hope that through research, stronger public health policies, education and resources, other families will be better informed and able to enjoy their time together longer.”

According to the AHA, cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally — 17 million people die annually due to heart ailments.

“At the American Heart Association, our goal is to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke,” says Shelby Darnell, AHA director. Darnell works on the organization’s annual national Heart Walk, which draws participation and support from AbbVie employees. “Thanks to generous supporters like AbbVie, we fund lifesaving medical research and education programs that help all Americans live longer, stronger lives.”

Firsthand experience

For Carrie Grimes, senior director, regulatory, R&D quality, safety, business services, deciding on a charity was as firsthand and as personal as it gets. “I gave to the Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS) Foundation,” she says. GBS is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

“Unfortunately, I battled GBS in 2013-2014. I went from playing with my son one day to being completely paralyzed within days,” Grimes says. “I spent four months in the hospital re-learning skills such as talking, eating and walking and I am proud to say, I beat it! My hope is that my donation can help others who struggle with this disorder.”

Passion and personal choice go a long way toward ensuring that employees have a powerful voice in making their charitable contributions count. It is the logical consequence of a culture focused on making a remarkable impact on the lives of patients living with difficult-to-cure diseases.

Learn more about the AbbVie Foundation and AbbVie’s approach to Corporate Responsibility and our Commitment to Improve Health Outcomes.

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Mary Kathryn Steel
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