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, Cure4Cole.com.
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.