Allison Compton Turns a Disability into a Special Ability
Allison Compton, Regional Manager for our Strategic Comp team, is on a one-woman mission to change perceptions surrounding disabilities. Her passion comes from wearing a prosthetic leg her entire life and learning to use it as an advantage. This is how Allison has turned her disability into a special ability to support Great American insureds, as well as inspire others along the way.
What challenges did you face with your disability growing up and how did you overcome them?
I was born with a rare condition that caused my femur (thigh bone) to be underdeveloped. As a result, my leg did not fully form. My right leg is about half the length of my left leg. The disability created various obstacles and challenges while I was growing up, especially since I loved sports and was always active.
The doctors told my parents that there were two options – to amputate my leg up to my hip or try a new procedure to make my leg more functional. I had three major surgeries, all of which put nearly the whole right side of my body in a cast. This amazing procedure turned my foot around so that the Achilles Tendon on my foot acts as a knee joint for my prosthetic. Over the years, I have had many prosthetic legs that I affectionately call Freeda, which to me stands for “freedom.” It is incredible how a prosthetic or any difference can actually enable and empower you.
I have worked hard not to let my disability define me or hinder my potential. I am proud to be a Paralympic athlete and Bronze medalist from the Athens 2004 games. I have always been athletic. Unfortunately, when I wanted to play volleyball at the highest level, I learned that the sport I wanted to play was only offered as an all-men's team. I was the only woman on an all-men's standing volleyball team for Paralympic athletes. I fought diligently to bring light to this issue and went through many challenges when playing for this team in an effort to start a women's team.
How did you get your start in insurance and what brought you to Great American?
In 2004, I retired from playing on the national team. I worked in the mortgage industry for a hot minute but have worked in the insurance industry since 2006. My favorite part about my job is building relationships with clients, making connections and helping business owners protect their investment in our program.
What have you learned through your personal experiences and challenges that help you in your role in Strategic Comp?
Strategic Comp focuses on workers' compensation insurance. When an insured experiences an accident at work, our goal is to support them as he or she recovers and see him or her return to work at their fullest potential. I think living with a disability gives me a unique perspective on that process and can be encouraging to others.
An important message I have learned that helps me be successful in my role as Regional Manager is showing people there is life after injury. One lesson I learned throughout my journey that resonates in this role, “is to never take anything at face value, you have to do the work and peel back the layers to uncover the truth.”
How do you inspire others, both in your personal and professional life?
I am asked to speak with many different types of groups as a motivational speaker. I help both children and adults see past things they view as differences or limitations. I encourage others to learn how to use their differences to their advantage. I have been fortunate to speak at many schools and conferences, and share my story with people around the world. I am also on the Athlete Advisory Council for LA2028 to ensure all athletes have an amazing experience at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.