Photo Credit/Source: Flickr
Remember the movie John Q? In it, Denzel Washington plays a man on the edge, who has no money or insurance to pay for his son’s medical treatment. It’s an interesting concept about how far a man would go to do what’s best for his family, and it’s also an enormous takedown of the US medical system. As it turns out, it’s also highly inspirational.
Brian Randolph of South Lyon in Michigan was arrested last month and is currently behind bars after robbing a credit union. His daughter suffers from a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma. It only occurs in 2% of all children at her age – and the treatment is highly expensive. According to Randolph, the girl’s mother’s insurance policy had run out, leaving him with no option but robbing the bank. He was arrested in Detroit, with bail set at $500,000.
While the real life scenario didn’t play out like the movie – John Q demanded only treatment for his child – you can see the similarities. However, as much as John Q was heroic, there are doubts as to whether Randolph could be judged the same. Lieutenant Christopher Sovik of the South Lyon Police suspects that the motive was less honorable. According to the police officer, Randolph had receipts for two month’s rent, a pair of expensive LeBron James sneakers, and a bag from Gucci.
Some good has come out of the news, however. The family is trying to raise $50,000 on a GoFundMe page, and at the time of writing are just a few thousand dollars short.
It’s not the first time that this sort of thing has happened, either. Back in 2011, a North Carolina man needed treatment for his arthritis, a foot condition, and a bad back. However, he didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to pay for treatment. Instead, he planned and carried out a robbery – of sorts.
On June 9th, 2011, James Verone walked into his local bank in Gastonia and handed over a note to the teller. It was a notice of the robbery, and that the cashier should hand over $1. He sat down in the corner of the bank and was arrested by police. He was later charged with stealing from a person and was held in custody. He did, however, get to see several doctors about his conditions.
Our list stretches back even further to the early 1970s. And, to come full circle, it was an act that inspired a movie, rather than the other way around. On 22 August 1972, John Wojtowicz, Salvatore Naturale, and Bobby Westerberg walked into a bank in Brooklyn, New York. Their sole aim was to rob it, but, they couldn’t go through with it, despite being armed with a shotgun each. It wasn’t long before the police surrounded the bank, and a long and drawn out standoff began.
As the day progressed, the reasoning for the failed robbery became apparent. It turned out that Wojtowicz had planned the raid to raise money for his partner’s gender reassignment treatment. And, just like that, he became an instant Robin Hood character. The standoff lasted for 14 hours, and a deal was struck to give the robbers a flight out of New York. The FBI, however, stepped in before they boarded the plane, killed Naturale, and arrested Wojtowicz. The incident was later made into an excellent Al Pacino movie called Dog Day Afternoon.
Photo Credit/Source: Flickr
There are, of course, more sensible ways of raising money for medical treatment. As we mentioned above, fundraising websites have taken off in a big way in recent years, and would have been handy for the likes of Wojtowicz. If you can catch hold of the public’s imagination – which he certainly did – then many will be happy to contribute a few dollars to your cause. And when you can reach hundreds of thousands of people with your story, you can see how those little payments will soon stack up.
It’s also easier than ever to hold your own charity event, either in your community or across the country. Perhaps you could do something yourself to raise funds, such as travel across the country on a bicycle. It’s a great way of spreading the word about your cause, and local media channels love to get involved in that sort of thing.
On a smaller scale, perhaps you could hold a sports event. Famous sports stars and teams often get involved with local charitable events and using them could be an excellent way to entice people to come and play. Let’s say that you are promoting breast cancer awareness or trying to raise money for a friend or family member’s treatment. All you need to arrange is a pro sports person to present the prize, and some breast cancer football gear for all those taking part. The only real limits to raising money for anything are your imagination.
So, perhaps if you ever need help from others, ask first. If they don’t listen, keep asking until they do. People can be generous – certainly more than the law enforcement agencies. But, those people do need to know what they are contributing to. As you can see from the Brian Randolph case, ordinary families can crowdfund to pay for treatment they can’t afford. Although, in fairness, it’s hard to say whether the effect of the arrest was the boost of publicity that the family needed.
Given that one in four people who have medical insurance can’t afford to pay for their treatments, it would be no surprise to hear more stories like. But, the point is, you don’t have to rob a bank to get noticed. There are plenty of other options before you go down that route. Seek out assistance from your local hospital or medical center – they might point you in the right direction. Get in touch with charities – you never know if they have spare funds for cases like yours until you ask. Kick up a fuss, and make people aware of your situation. It might just help you stick around to see the results of the treatment, without looking at them from behind bars.