This morning I did something I almost never do. I turned on the TV. To clarify, the TV is a frequent background noise in our home, it’s just not usually me who invites the noise. Today was different. I did it. My only excuse is that I have been so busy over the last several days and as a result there was a rapidly growing mountain of clean clothes that needed to be folded. As the mountain has grown, the clothes have been moved from the kitchen table to the arm chair in the library, and when the arm chair got too small to contain the mountain it was moved again to the recliner. This morning, I could put it off no longer. I made a cup of tea and turned on the TV for some company while folding clothes.
After scrolling through the hundreds of available viewing options, it came down to two: Law and Order reruns or The Today Show. I know what you’re thinking; believe me. For me, there is generally no contest here. I will choose Ice-T and Mariska Hargitay over Matt Lauer any day of the week. I never have been a big Today Show fan, and have completely refused to watch it for the last several months. For some reason, today I was compelled. It was sort of like passing a terrible car accident on the highway. You don’t want to look, but you just can’t help yourself. The draw is like a magnet.
During the time it took me to fold approximately four days’ worth of laundry, I saw two stories that caught my attention. The first was about a four-year old preacher from Grenada, Mississippi. Having spent much of my youth in Mississippi and having the living daylights scared out of me after hearing “hell-fire and brimstone” preachers talk about what would happen if I was “left behind,” this little guy was… well, let’s just say he was interesting. The next story that caught my attention was that of a nine-year old girl named Rachel. My own daughter is named Rachel, so whenever I hear that name, my ears perk up. The preview of the story, which came just prior to a lengthy commercial break, whet my appetite even further. I was told following the multiple advertisements I would hear the story of a little girl who selflessly asked for donations to raise money for clean water in areas of the world ravaged by famine and drought.
As promised, after the commercial break I heard and watched the story of Rachel Beckwith. For her ninth birthday, Rachel let it be known that instead of receiving presents, she wanted donations; a movement was born. Rachel had a goal to raise $300 that year; a goal she almost attained. The final tally was $220 dollars and Rachel vowed to do it again on her next birthday. Tragically, Rachel did not live to be ten years old. She was killed in July of this year when the car she was riding in was involved in a pile-up on I-90 in Washington State. A dozen cars were involved. Rachel was the only person to die.
After her death, the story of Rachel’s selfless generosity spread. At this point, there has been more than $1 Million raised in her name to benefit the charity that provides clean drinking water to children across the globe.
Rachel Beckwith’s story is the kind of thing that grabs your heart and brings tears to your eyes. She was a beautiful little girl with big brown eyes, a gorgeous smile, and a heart of gold. Even the most hardened journalist couldn’t resist the opportunity to report this story.
As I turned off the TV and began carrying the mountain of clothes (now reduced to several sizeable stacks of folded garments and towels) upstairs, I looked at the time. I noted that I had watched approximately 30 minutes of The Today Show. I also noted that during that time there were 3 lengthy commercial breaks, and during each one of those breaks, there was an advertisement for prescription medication. The first was for a new medication being promoted for the treatment of ADHD. This was followed during the second break with an ad for Cymbalta. The third ad was for a medication to reduce urinary incontinence. As I think back on it now, this is actually appropriate, since both the ads for the ADHD medication and Cymbalta mentioned kidney problems as one of the side-effects.
As I was carrying the folded clothes upstairs, I started thinking about the little boy who’s death from vaccine-injury is at the core of the movement that has resulted in you being able to read this post on the VaxTruth.org website. It was less than two weeks ago when I first learned about Max and what happened to him after he received his “well-baby” shots. Max’s death and his father’s willingness to share the story is at the heart and soul of The Billboard Project. Donations for billboards that will help to inform parents of their legal right to religious, medical, and philosophical exemptions currently stand at more than $5,000. In less than two weeks, parents of vaccine-injured children have funded two billboards in Evansville, Indiana and a third in Austin, Texas. Plans for the next billboard, which will go up in Denver, Colorado are in the works. I am in no way trying to take anything away from the story of Rachel Beckwith. What she did was the work of an angel. I am, however, curious about how long it will take for Matt Lauer to agree to cover the story of Max and The Billboard Project. After all, this is a completely selfless effort. Parents who have lost their own children are raising money to help prevent other parents and children from facing the same pain. The response has been incredible and shows no sign (pun intended) of stopping. By the spring of 2012, we will have billboards in every state, including and most especially those (Mississippi and West Virginia) that currently deny parents their constitutional right to make decisions regarding medical care for their own children. Perhaps when that happens, Mr. Lauer will be willing to give air time to this incredible act of generosity and love which so many families across the globe are making possible.
As I envision myself and others who are involved with VaxTruth and The Billboard Project, sitting on the set of The Today Show, being interviewed about the events of the last two weeks and the groundswell of support that will come in the next several months, I am hit with a dose of reality. Matt Lauer will never cover this story, even if the amount of money raised is 100 times what beautiful Rachel Beckwith and her supporters have raised. He can’t. The reason was plainly evident during the 30 minutes I invested watching his show this morning. The “news” that is reported by The Today Show is funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Just as was true with James Murdoch and Merck in England, the information American parents are entitled to hear from our major news sources is censored by those that pay for the programs.
That’s okay. Just as Dr. Wakefield informed Matt Lauer many months ago, this is not over. We are strong. We are connected. We are determined and we have Truth on our side. We are no longer dependent on the media to tell us “the truth as they see it.” We can do that ourselves and we can do it for others.
We are parents of vaccine-injured children, and we are not going away.
If you would like to see the story of Rachel Beckwith, it really is inspiring and beautiful. You can view Rachel’s story on the Today Show website by clicking this link: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/?_r=1 Just be forewarned, you will have to sit through a commercial advertisement before the video airs. When I clicked, I got to watch an add for Walgreens. Ahhh…. so much work to be done.