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Hanging with the Heists

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Three rowdy kids. Two working parents. One hectic household. Are we painting a familiar picture? Despite their jam-packed calendars, Greg and Jill Heist try to take a few family vacations each year with their three children, Ethan, Jack and Sylvie.

“This year, we took a leap of faith and went on a huge road trip out West,” Jill says. “We originally were going to fly, but as the family gets bigger, it becomes less feasible.” (Buying five airfares isn’t exactly cheap).

“And flying is not the best activity for us,” she adds. “It’s more stressful and when you get there you don’t have your car. It was so nice to have our stuff with us and have a vehicle that’s familiar to us.”

“It was a bit of an adventure and a risk,” Greg explains. “We didn’t know how our 2-year-old and the rest of the kids would handle such a long road trip.”

But having reliable OnStar services in their GMC Acadia Denali gave the Heists the confidence to travel such a long distance.

“We mapped out specific places we could stop and get out and run around or things to do or see on the way. It helped to break it up,” he says. “And it was great to be able to spend that time together. We saw a ton of things we wouldn’t have otherwise seen.”

Then they quickly found one downside to venturing out to the middle of nowhere. “We had no signal on our cell phones. We realized that if we needed to make a phone call, we weren’t going to be able to use our cell phones,” Greg says.

To stay in touch, Jill simply pushed the vehicle’s blue OnStar button, added Hands-Free Calling*32 minutes to their plan, and let out a sigh of relief as they drove through rugged terrain on the back roads of Montana.

“If something were to happen — we were in really remote areas — there wasn’t help anywhere nearby and our phones weren’t working,” Jill says. “But when we went to use OnStar, it was working.”

In a two-and-a-half-week-long trip, they explored rocky mountains, pristine lakes and shady forests. They camped, they hiked, and they conquered the Crown of the Continent.

“Now, based on this trip, driving is going to be our first choice,” Greg says. “If we can drive more than 2,000 miles to a destination and have it be this great, there’s a lot of places we could go.”

Back to Mondays in Michigan

Along with using OnStar to stay connected on trips, the couple appreciates features that aid with the day-to-day mayhem of soccer practice, homework, crazy work schedules, dinnertime with picky eaters and many sleepless nights.

“Having the ability to remote-start the car with the vehicle mobile app*26 is quite nice, especially in the winter,” Jill says. “And we use it if we lock the keys in the car, which may have happened once or twice.”

And Greg uses the monthly diagnostics report to keep up on vehicle maintenance.*21 “It’s always nice when you get a message from OnStar saying it’s time to schedule your maintenance,” Greg says. “It’s a nice little reminder and becomes one less thing to have to keep track of.”

“When you’re a parent, you’re super busy. There’s tons of stuff going on professionally and personally. OnStar becomes that way of having just a little bit of convenience,” he adds.

The couple says the safety aspects of their service are another reason they continue to renew their service plan.

“As a parent, safety becomes even more paramount in terms of its importance in a vehicle,” Greg says. “I see OnStar as a way of us having an additional layer of security so that if something were to happen, we’re covered. It’s almost like that silent partner in the background that’s watching over me on some level.”

“Just having that sense of comfort and knowing that there’s a backup plan, especially on vacation, is invaluable,” Jill adds.