Dear Mr. Sparks,
The Super Bowl was played last night. I watched with my family because they are football fans. I am clueless about the sport but I watched the halftime show and commercials.
As a grieving mom, I know that children sometimes die. It's a horrible, awful thing but it happens. It's the worst that can happen in this world but it does happen.
As a charity leader that works for a cause that sometimes includes child death, I know that awareness is very hard to raise.
Today, Nationwide Insurance is being boycotted and attacked for daring to try to help prevent the accidental deaths of children and raising awareness during the most televised event of the year. How dare they upset people like that? No, how dare the country take offense to something like that?
The media loves gossip, crime and feel-good stories. They don't often write about "downers" like dying children. This is reflected in the constant rejection that our cause gets trying to raise awareness on TV. Thankfully, some will help. But we're told "no thanks" 99 times for every "yes".
Often I am turned away for meetings and speech opportunities because Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia is "too sad". People don't want to hear about, or acknowledge, child death.
When our charity is in contests with other charities for awareness opportunities, our cause isn't chosen. It's overlooked for more well-known, popular causes. For awareness contests. Dying babies just isn't sexy and popular.
Infant death has been a taboo subject for centuries. Child death is talked about a bit more because these children have "been in society and known to others" so the loss feels more real to outside people. You would think
that in the 21st century that we would be more enlightened and not force
families to pretend their children didn't exist and their deaths didn't
But here we are, in 2015, and our country isn't in an uproar that children are drowning in bathtubs, being strangled on playgrounds, overdosing on their parents medications or being poisoned from household cleaners. Our country is in an uproar because the commercial scared people into thinking child death could happen to them and that's what they are really upset about. How dare a company make them think of such awful things? Even if it is a possibility? Even if that company is trying to save lives?
Yet other commercials that included disabled children were celebrated. Sick children are ok, if it's a socially acceptable and well-known cause like cancer or prematurity. But death... don't ever speak about child death, even if to try to prevent it. It's not a "feel good" story. Unless it involves gun death and then it's a politically charged story that makes for good ratings. Those poor children who have the misfortune to die from other accidents or medical conditions... they don't deserve awareness because it's politically incorrect to upset anyone.
800 children die from CDH every single year in the United States. Where is their news coverage?
If the commercial had been about stopping puppies from drowning, it would have won CLIO Awards.
As a grieving parent who has lost a child, was it hard for me to watch? Absolutely. But Nationwide didn't need to remind me what my child missed out on in life. I live with that every day. Of course I cringed when I saw the commercial, who didn't? But if it saves one life, or a thousand lives of children and prevents other parents from grieving like me.... I can't just think of myself and my feelings. Make me cry a million times if it will save other children.
As a parent who has lost a child, let me say that parents WANT and NEED awareness for whatever took their children. I doubt a single parent who lost a child to an accident is going to boycott Nationwide. I doubt any person with a heart for children who wants to save any child from losing their life to any cause, is going to boycott Nationwide.
What happened to compassion in our country? Why is the gut reaction "Do not upset ME with that stuff!" instead of "What can I do to help save children?". To me, that is far more disturbing than any commercial could ever be.
Regardless of how people feel about this commercial, it raised awareness and for that I say, "KUDOS!" to Nationwide. Your courage and compassion may very well save the lives of children and I applaud and respect your choice to make this commercial.
Whew! Thank you for letting me vent, Mr. Sparks. I know you understand the need for awareness because of the characters in your books.
But do you see what we are up against as a charity? It is so hard to raise awareness for our children at all. A cause barely known is even harder. Our children need your voice.
Dawn M. Torrence Williamson
Shane's grieving mom