It’s not often that life gives you a second chance. However, Heath Ritenour, Chairman and CEO of Insurance Office of America, was given just that. After being diagnosed with cancer at age 39, Ritenour was immersed into a whirlwind of medical treatments, hospital stays and doctors’ appointments. Fortunately, he came through the experience cancer-free and is determined to make the most of the extra chance at life that God has given him.
Getting rid of the to-do list
One of the things that Ritenour changed in his life post-cancer was his former obsession with his “to-do” list. Heath Ritenour is quick to share that having cancer helped him to be a more empathetic person and to be more aware of the daily joys in his life. As an example, he says he went from having “a long to-do list” to having “things to do.”
Giving back and finding grace
Ritenour’s cancer diagnosis caught him off guard, as it does most people. After all, he was young, fit and healthy. However, after learning he had a fast-growing tumor in his groin, one that would turn out to be cancerous, he was forced to step back from his corporate responsibilities and concentrate on getting well.
Always transparent, Heath Ritenour made a video addressing his staff and insurance brokers, telling them what they could expect of him over the next few months. In the video, he urged anyone listening to go to the doctor if they suspected they had a tumor. His message prompted one employee to seek medical assistance. The doctors found he had a tumor which was subsequently successfully treated. Ritenour, now with cancer behind him, is still reaching out to those who are going through what he went through.
With God’s help
Ritenour grew up going to church and has served on his Orlando church’s leadership council. However, he credits his experience with cancer for helping him to forge a true bond with God. He says cancer made him realize that he wasn’t alone on life’s journey, that God was there beside him. Says Ritenour, “There’s absolutely no control over anything — it was all in God’s hands to control and manage”. This revelation was both humbling and liberating to Ritenour.
Heath Ritenour is the President of the IOA Foundation, the charitable arm of his company. The IOA Foundation is actively involved in giving back to the Central Florida community through fundraising drives, charitable events and sponsored sporting events such as the LPGA’s IOA Classic.
In summing up his cancer journey, Ritenour says, “When you are threatened with not being able to do anything, it is no longer what you’ve got to do, it’s what you get to do.” It’s become his mantra going forward.
About Heath Ritenour
Heath Ritenour joined the family insurance business in 1996, starting out as an agent and working his way up the ladder. He became CEO of the company in 2008 and Chairman in 2018 when his father retired. During his tenure, the company has grown to be the 11th largest privately-held insurance company in the United States.
Ritenour and his wife live in Central Florida with their two children. When he’s not working and doing community projects, Ritenour enjoys spending time with his family, working out, playing basketball and watching football.