The Cure4Cole “Ad” Campaign

Hmm, is it possible to somehow not take the side of a sick kid and not be considered an awful person? Let’s find out. So, I was doing some stuff for work the other day (well, a lot of days), and I was outside of Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest. And lo-and-behold, there’s this bus stop advertisement of a very young, pants-less kid and his dog with a message imploring anyone reading it that ‘you’ should help because “Perhaps YOU [their emphasis] have the knowledge to save our son.” I’d assume that this is one sick kid, a poster child/patient for some obscure but deadly disease/syndrome/condition, etc. and there must be some sort of national ad campaign to get the attention of doctors because I sure don’t have any knowledge about how to fix the kid other than to possibly point him in the direction of a GAP Kids so he could get some pants. Maybe his condition is skin-related, and clothing irritates his skin, but I doubt families of kids with severe skin issues own dogs. I guess the “ad” campaign (quotes because I doubt that they’re trying to sell anything) worked, and I checked out the website,

Apparently the domain was taken.

Turns out that, yes, Cole is indeed a sick kid, and that dog is there to bark when Cole involuntarily stops breathing. Yikes. Now, lesser men might end a review there, giving 5 stars to anything related to Mr. Cole just because of “the little guy’s courage.” So at risk of further becoming a bad person, here’s a quick rundown of the “situation.” Well, I guess that shouldn’t be in quotes, but oh well. What I thought was perhaps a national campaign is actually a goodwill gesture from Lamar Advertising Company which placed a full-size billboard in Milwaukee (outside a children’s hospital), two billboards in Ohio, and four in the Lehigh Valley. To be honest, I’m now interested in finding the other four in the Lehigh Valley (and I know that I’ve seen a second one, but I can’t remember where), but that’s more my completist nature showing through than anything else — don’t worry, hoping that someone finds a cure is a higher priority to me than seeing all the signs in the general area. So, anyway, the website covers the story of how an undiagnosed, but very sick kid from Winnipeg caught the attention of an advertising company, includes a photo gallery and even video examples of the choking behavior that he exhibits when he stops breathing (the sound of the choking is what the dog has been trained to recognize as the cue to start barking to get everyone’s attention). I’ve not clicked on the videos as I can’t help but think that if I did, I probably wouldn’t post this review.

So, I guess to effectively review this “ad” campaign, I need to forget that there’s a sick kid behind it. Superficially, I recognize the fact that having a poster child for a condition is one method of increasing awareness. For example, Doug Flutie has a public-awareness autism campaign named after his son. It’s not a shameless move on anyone’s part, and it’s better to see sports stars and celebrities promoting medical awareness instead of knee-jerk political opinions. But, the only issue with Cole’s campaign is that he seems to be the only one. Of course it’s not his fault (or his mother’s) that his condition is so rare that it is more accurately called “personal,” but a cynic would see the website and notice its lack of “help Cole so you can help other sick children”-type messages and be put off by the whole idea. Of course, it says in bold letters that they’re not asking for money, but cynics would say that anyone who specifically says they don’t want your money actually do. Am I that particular cynic? No, not really, but I guess it stands against my character to assume that someone out there might think that. Of course, I’m also the type of person that would think of wishing Dr. House to be real so that he can diagnose Cole, accuse his mom of drug use in her past [because that’s what House does in almost every episode], and hilariously harass his boss in one drama-filled hour. Again, superficially, while the website is perfectly functional, there are some spelling errors. True, they’re typos, but some of the copy has a “xanga-esque” feel to it, and and professionalism = legitimacy. Of course videos of the choking sound a sick kid makes as he stops breathing are also equal to legitimacy. So in the name of that, if anyone is coming here to call me soulless for all of this, consider this my formal offering to copy check the entire website for the entirety of its existence.


The Cure4Cole “ad” campaign receives three-and-a-half stars due to the fact that it shows that companies do care and so on, and looking through the guestbook has lots of people wishing well, many after having seen the billboards. It’s not the fault of Cole (or his mom) that his condition is so rare that messages about “helping others, too” would be almost inapplicable, but it’s very odd to see an awareness campaign focused on just one kid. Again, that isn’t to be held against them, but symbolically, it would count for something. Of course, I/we/anyone-with-a-heart hopes that they figure out the problem and that he gets better. But, is it too much to ask that he be at least more fully clothed in the picture used in the campaign. There are lots of pictures in the gallery of him wearing more than underpants/diapers(?). So, yeah, three-and-a-half stars. That’s right, I’m going to Hell.


  1. No you’re not going to hell! But I can assure you the site is real and so is my son’s condition! It is only focus on one child due to the fact I haven’t found anyone else yet with the same illness as Cole. The whole idea of raising awareness is to try and save my son’s life. I am desparate to keep him alive as any parent would be to save their child. I guess I am the first parent to do this and so it does seem strange but hey it saves my son’s life I don’t care. As for me asking for no money. Trust me that is also true. Infact some ppl have sent money and it costs me money to send it back to them (cost of a stamp)
    As for the typo’s you should read it now. There are tons of typo’s as I rewrote it this past weekend. The previous one was a straight copy of a newspaper article (Sept.2005 under press section)
    As for Cole not wearing any clothes in the picture is due to the fact with that picture when blown up you will see Cole’s surgical scar that runs for the top of his bellybutton straight up! It shows that Cole has gone through surgery to try and “correct” his illness!
    I can also assure you I wasn’t taking drugs and I wish Dr. House was a real person because if he was I wouldn’t be doing all this to raise awareness for Cole. He would have already have been cured!!!!
    As for how you site was found. My daughter found it and pointed it out to me. She is 11 and curious to see how what would happen when she put her brother’s name in a search engine!
    IOne part that I wish you mentioned is we are Canadian. We don’t have all the beneifits of the USA medical programs. Free “care” in Canada doesn’t always mean “free” we have waited months and months for a specialist’s appt for Cole just due to waiting lists and for surgery as well.
    Bottom line is the more ppl who talk/write about Cole there is a better chance of finding someone who knows what he has! I like your writing style and sense of humour!

  2. Thanks for commenting and “checking in”…..and not hating me. In a weird way, I guess this is just another example of the internet making the world a bit smaller every day and all of that stuff (though I guess the fact that Allentown was one of the places that ended up with the billboards contributes to that shrinking).

    Health care in the U.S. is no walk in the park either, though throwing money at a medical issue usually fixes the issues with the system, assuming one has the money to throw around. Of course, that’s only when the diagnosis/illness/treatment is known and understood.

    Again, thanks for replying (and again, not hating me). We all hope (the writers and readers) that everything with Cole is figured out sooner rather than later.

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