CHAMPAIGN – Area residents Eric Batsie, Natalie Ellis and Terry Ward each have had an "aha moment" that changed their lives.
Next year, as part of the Mutual of Omaha "aha moment" commercial campaign, one of them might be telling the television-watching nation of their life-changing experiences.
Now you can vote on who will be part of the national broadcast campaign by going to the online survey at www.ahamoment.com/.
There you can watch short videos of 75 people from 25 cities each telling of their aha moments and then vote for your favorite. The first round of voting ends Thursday.
After that, the top vote-getter from each of the 25 cities will move into the final round of voting, which will end Oct. 31. The top 10 from that round will be featured in the television ads.
The "aha moment" Web site also allows visitors to share their own aha moments via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other online social sites.
Batsie, Ellis, Ward and the other "aha moment" semifinalists were recorded by Mutual of Omaha during a four-month tour this past summer.
"We set out on the 'Aha Moment' tour hoping to capture extraordinary aha moments – real stories from real people, and we ended up with more than 1,000 uplifting stories," John Hildenbiddle, senior vice president of brand management and publications at Mutual of Omaha, said in a news release.
"Now we want everyone across the country to participate in the aha moment experience by voting for moments that touch them the most."
Following are short synopses of what the semifinalists from Champaign-Urbana said:
– Eric Batsie, a Russian studies major, said his aha moment came when he was working in an orphanage in Russia and saw a little girl who received candy and coloring books turn around to distribute them to other kids. Batsie decided then he wanted to work with children the rest of his life.
– Natalie Ellis said that as a young girl she was so shy she couldn't even ask a teacher whether she could go to the bathroom. After she attended a summer youth theater program, she discovered a passion for theater that helped her overcome her timidity.
– Terry Ward's father died as a result of a car accident before Terry was born. Ward said the determination that his mother displayed in raising him and his siblings showed them the importance of family and the safety family can provide to children.