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The Cutest Little Girl 

by

Stu Engle

Sometimes I become aware of a situation that confirms my belief that corporate America does not care about anyone but its profits. I know that is not a surprising announcement, but the story that follows makes me angry.

I was taking a late afternoon flight from Providence to Chicago. I came back to my seat to find that a mother and her charming 6-year old daughter, Jasmin, would be sitting next to me. Jasmin was working on her homework, and she reminded me of my own 9-year old son - asking questions, smiling, knowledgeable, cute. Yet, there was something wrong. Jasmin could not move normally, and when our flight was delayed for four hours, it afforded me an opportunity to get to know mother and daughter a little better. 

Jasmin has FOP - an extremely rare disease that affects one in 2 million people. FOP, Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, is a genetic disorder that causes bone to form in muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. Bridges of extra bone form across joints in characteristic patterns progressively restricting movement. FOP is a disease in which the body produces not only too much bone, but an extra skeleton that immobilizes the joints of the body.

Sounds awful doesnít it? Well, it is.

This fact and the extraordinary cuteness of Jasmin made me sad. To see her walking, through the airport clutching her monkey doll Ooh Ha - what sound does a monkey make (get the connection?) and to know that eventually she will lose the ability to walk is very sad. In fact, I now am lamenting how angry I was just last month when I hurt my toe and could not get around for 10 days and my tennis game suffered. Compared to Jasmin, my own injury is just an afterthought. I am so ashamed.

Anyway, although I am saddened by her condition, what makes me angry at corporate America is that her insurance carrier decided not to cover the dental expenses for dental sealants that will prevent future invasive measures which will in turn freeze her jaw. The insurance company said this was extra dental work; if a process will keep a person's jaw from becoming frozen, I would say that would constitute a vital part of life and thus covered under any health coverage which the family has.

Corporate America has once again shown me how heartless it can be. I realize this is just one case, but all I have to do is pick up the daily newspaper and read about how some multi-million dollar company is trying to rip off someone. Only this time, the rip off is coming at the expense of the cutest little girl you would ever want to know.

Why does it have to happen? When will big business understand that if there are enough people out there who suddenly decide that the rich donít deserve what they have, then the rich will be thrown out. If you donít believe this, just pick up a history book and read about societies that have come to their senses and have decided to start over. O.K., my ranting is over but not my rage.

For those of you who are reading this and actually want to make a difference, contact the FOP website and find out more about the disease. Maybe you could contribute toward research or just find out about the disease so you will know about it. Or, if you want to contact Jasmin directly, e-mail her at Jasmin Floyd. You will find a little girl with a great attitude and a wonderful little smile. I know I did.

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