This morning, when I sat down at my computer to compose a commentary on People Magazine's choice of Gwyneth Paltrow as this year's most beautiful woman in the world, a photograph featured in the Huffington Post made me think the better of it.
The Associated Press photograph (taken by Bizuayehu Tesfaye) shows Adrianne Haslet, a professional ballroom dancer who lost her left foot and part of her lower leg in the recent bomb explosion at the Boston Marathon finish line. Ms. Haslet, every bit as blond and lovely as Gwyneth Paltrow, now faces tremendous challenges that cast a shamefully superficial light on People Magazine's annual “most beautiful” issue. Who cares about People Magazine when there are far more important things to consider?
The Huffington Post article featuring Ms. Haslet's photograph highlighted the astounding medical expenses incurred by those injured in Boston: amputation of a leg is at least $20,000; an artificial leg is more than $50,000; rehabilitation is tens of thousands of dollars more. Health insurance, of course, will not cover the total cost. Though more than $23 million has already been collected in charitable donations, much more funding is needed. While caring individuals arrange fund-raisers to assist the injured, here's what I want to know: where are the high rollers? Where's the Hollywood elite that freely spends $50,000 on diamond engagement rings and millions of dollars on weddings for marriages that don't last? Where are the Hollywood housewives who buy designer handbags and shoes as thoughtlessly as I buy Stella Doro cookies? Where are the rock stars who rake in unimaginable sums from their tours? It's all well and good for movie stars to pay bed-side visits to the victims as long as they bring their hefty Hollywood wallets with them.
I'll go out on a shaky limb and ask a naïve question: why can't hospitals and insurance companies forgive these debts? Why can't prosthetic manufacturers donate artificial limbs? Why can't physical therapists donate services? Why can't television stations and media put their money where their mouths are and pay some of these medical invoices? Why can't they channel funds paid to so-called reality television stars into something positive with long-lasting benefits? Why can't sitcom stars donate a week's pay to the victims? Yes, I know. Business is business. The dollar is the dollar. But such extraordinary circumstances as these call for extraordinary humanitarian response. That being said, I'm well aware that generous and kind hearted people, ordinary folk and high rollers alike, anonymously donate to those in need, but it would be nice if once...just once...some entity, individual or corporate, would step up to the plate, choose someone in need, and make their financial nightmare go away.
Maybe in a perfect world...just not in this one.