Alfa Quads Bring Four Times The Blessings
For many Alfa policyholders and television viewers, the Haynes quadruplets are still those cute, cuddly children they watched grow up on Alfa commercials. But the days of toddlers with red A-L-F-A T-shirts are gone.
This spring Elizabeth, Caitlin, Will and Sarah Haynes will graduate from Ohatchee High School and next fall will be freshmen at Auburn University. Their oldest sister, Anna Lee Weathers, is 21 years old and was married in December. She's a student at Jacksonville State University.
But 19 years ago, doctors gave their mother, Tammy Haynes, little hope of delivering four healthy babies. In fact, doctors suggested she eliminate two of the babies to increase the chance of the other two surviving.
"That was out of the question!" Tammy said as she looked at the four teenagers sitting around the living room of her home in Ohatchee. "I can't imagine life without any one of them. Each one of them is a blessing."
Even before the quads were born, Tammy and her husband Bruce, who works for the United Parcel Service, wanted them to have a normal, happy life. But how can a family with quadruplets and a three-year-old be normal?
"Bruce and I both prayed a lot," Tammy said as she recalled the months prior to the quads' births. At 35 weeks into her pregnancy, she delivered four healthy babies: Elizabeth, who weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces; Caitlin, 3 pounds, 11 ounces; Sarah, 4 pounds, 5 ounces, and Will who weighed in at 4 pounds, 10 ounces.
"We still pray a lot," Tammy said. "We thank God for giving us such a miracle and for choosing us to be their parents."
Those little miracles found their way into the Alfa family when Tammy came up with the idea of them becoming spokesmen for Alfa Insurance Company. John Matthews, the former advertising director for Alfa who retired in 2005, said his first encounter with the Haynes family is a special memory.
"I met Tammy when she brought a hand-written proposal for us to consider featuring the quads in our advertising for Alfa Insurance," John recalled. "She told us that she and Bruce were loyal Alfa policyholders, and she wanted to give us the first opportunity to sign them up. She brought the children with her, and what a commotion it made. People were coming out of their offices to see the kids scampering around the lobby floor. And they were amazed when they realized there were four of them!"
John described Tammy as charming and full of grace and poise. He said it didn't take long for her to captivate everyone at Alfa.
"Our marketing management folks liked the idea of using real people in our advertising, especially in our television commercials, and we determined that the Haynes family, with their unique story, would be ideally suited for our ad program," John said. "Of course we had no clue how well they would perform in front of the cameras, so we brought in David Cranfill, a film director based in Chicago, to make it happen. It was magic."
John said Tammy was a natural spokesperson and never flubbed a line. The first commercial shoot was in November when the quads were about 18 months old, and their older sister was 3.
Looking at each of the teens, who will turn 19 in July, it's hard to imagine they were ever so tiny. Each has a unique personality, a strong Christian faith and openly shares his or her love for each other and their parents. They say they can't imagine growing up any other way.
"People still see us and know us as the Alfa kids, especially older people," said Sarah, a green-eyed blonde who is editor of the high school yearbook and recently spent time in China on a mission trip. She said she wants to work with orphans when she graduates from Auburn.
For several years, the quads and Anna Lee were featured in TV and print advertisements for Alfa Insurance Co., and the group made public appearances on behalf of the company.
"Alfa was so good to all of our family," Tammy said. "We had all of our insurance with Alfa before the quads were even born. After they were born, I was looking for a way to have extra income, and I came up with the idea of using them as a way to show Alfa is a good, family-oriented company."
The Hayneses insist they are just like most families. They have the occasional disagreement. But learning to share was probably more challenging than in most families, simply because of the number of children involved.
Elizabeth, a cheerleader with an outgoing personality who loves history and wants to major in public relations, said her brother and sisters are her best friends. "I just love being with them," she said. "They're funny, and we enjoy spending time with each other."
Caitlin, also a cheerleader and the appointed "fashion expert" for the family, agrees. "Our school is small, so we have lots of the same classes and friends at school," she said. "It's like having your best friends with you all the time." She says she'll be seeking a degree from Auburn in Human Development and Family Studies and plans to work in the mission field, too, perhaps in Africa.
Will, who his sisters claim is the smartest of the four, plays football and basketball at Ohatchee High School. He loves photography, videography and golf. He plans to seek a degree in marketing and advertising from Auburn.
Did they ever wonder what it was like to be a single child? All four of them nod. "Yeah, I wondered about it, but I never wanted it," Sarah said.
"This," Will said motioning to his sisters seated near him in the family's living room, "is normal for us."
"We do fight and we do argue, and it does get difficult because you share everything," Sarah said. "But we're best friends, and we love each other."
Each of the quads has excelled academically. They are ranked second, third, fourth and fifth in their high school class. And each has been awarded a tuition scholarship to Auburn.
Tammy, a teacher at Ohatchee Elementary School, said her children have understood from the beginning that they had to help provide for their education.
Their payment for doing the Alfa commercials didn't make them rich, Tammy said. But it was enough to buy diapers and baby food and it allowed her to stay home until the children started school.
"We have always loved Alfa - not just the insurance company, but the people who work there have been so good to us through the years," Tammy said.
Late last year, there was a reunion of sorts when John and David Cranfill paid the Hayneses a visit at their home.
"It was a grand homecoming with lots of laughs and stories about their time representing Alfa on TV," John said. "I was thrilled at how the girls had all grown into beautiful young ladies and Will a handsome young man. My relationship with the Haynes family was truly a blessing and one that I hope to continue the rest of my life."
But what will it be like for Tammy and Bruce when their children are all at college?
"It will be quiet," Bruce said with a big grin. "I know we'll miss them, but I know Tammy and I will enjoy some time doing things together alone again. Even when they are gone, we will always be a close family."
In addition to their schoolwork and being actively involved in their church, the Haynes quads volunteer for the local Special Olympics in their county. Each of them talks enthusiastically about how much they've learned from helping special needs children.
"We want our children to use their lives to give back," Tammy said. "And we want them to be thankful for their health. When they work with those children, they understand that most doctors thought they would have special needs like that. I think they understand how blessed they really are."