An update on the recent fundraiser for Ron Fanelli, who lost his wife, Kitty, in a fire in their home. Avalon String Band held the fundraiser at the Oregon Club. Captain Jack Hee tells me they raised about $10,000! Nothing can erase what Ron has been going through but with help from the Mummers family, some of what Ron needs to go forward will be taken care of. Thanks to all who took part and if you have not had a chance, you can still send a donation to Avalon String Band, 1538-40 S. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19147.
He could run. Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum did not say today that he would, or even that he could, but he would not rule out running for President in 2012. In advance of upcoming speeches in Iowa, Arizona, California and North Carolina, Rick Santorum spoke with me and other reporters on a conference call this morning.
He clearly gave Democrat Joe Sestak some lines to repeat. Rick Santorum, speaking about Sen. Arlen Specter, said, “”Arlen Specter voted with us more often than he voted against us.” And, “I do not believe Justice Alito would be on the Supreme Court today, if it wasn’t for Arlen Specter.”
I asked the conservative Santorum about talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s remark that President Obama “has surrendered” America. Santorum says he would not use the term surrendered, but “I think the President has tried to back America out of its preeminent role in world affairs.” Santorum went on to criticize the President for apologizing about America’s mistakes and said, “America leading the world is not something that he (Obama) has any intention” of doing, which Santorum says is a remarkable transition.
The former U.S. Senator says he told people Barack Obama would be the most liberal President the nation has ever elected, but “he surprised me in the boldness of his attempts to…jerk this country.”
Santorum says at times some Obama opponents, including talk radio, “have been pretty shrill,” but that talk radio hosts are not policy makers. He says, now it’s time for Republican leaders to stand up and be more pointed as to criticism and antidotes. Santorum says that Republicans by and large have not been particularly effective in articulating a health care system that entrusts health care decisions to individuals.
On Sarah Palin, “I think the media enjoys covering her. She’s colorful…When you make good copy, you get a lot of ink.”
As for the Republican Party in Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum says, “The two best things the Republican Party has going for it are Ed Rendell and Barack Obama.”
We get a chance to help Ron Fanelli this weekend. Ron’s wife Catherine, or Kitty to her friends, died recently in a fire at their home. This Saturday night (Sept. 19th), starting at 8pm, a beef and beer fundraiser takes place in Philadelphia to raise money to get Ron back on his feet financially. Avalon String Band, which he is a member of, is sponsoring the event, but it takes place at Oregon Fancy Club at 1728 S. 2nd Street, near Moore. The charge is $25.00. In a tough time when Mummers are being squeezed in every direction, finding the time or money can be even more difficult than usual. But, this is a clear case of the right and needed thing to do. If you cannot attend, Avalon SB is accepting donations before and after. And thank you Avalon and Oregon for stepping up to lead the way to help Ron.
33-year-old Trisha Urban will always remember his address. The young Berks County, Pennsylvania, mother has three reasons to remember: Her late husband, Andrew; their baby girl, Cora; and the fact that Trisha was there. She was sitting in the U.S. House Gallery, across the floor from First Lady Michelle Obama. Senator Robert Casey invited her as his guest. Casey had been moved by Trisha’s story.
It was 7 months ago. She and Andrew were awaiting the birth of their daughter. Trisha’s water had broken and they were preparing to go to the hospital. Andrew was taking out the trash and feeding the animals when he suffered a heart attack and died. He was 30-year-old. Cora was born a few hours after Andrew passed away.
Andrew knew he had a congenital heart defect and had been seeing doctors and for awhile had insurance through a university. But Trisha says he had to take an internship to complete his doctorate and that the insurance company “found a loophole” and dropped their coverage. Their medical bills began to pile up and Andrew skipped a doctor’s appontment to save money. The young widow tells me off her husband’s passing, “His death seemed so senseless. I truly believe if the system were different and he’d gone to that last doctor’s appointment, he’d still be here today.”
Trisha sees truth in the President’s speech. “When the President talked about the pre-existing conditions and was giving people’s testimony, I could definitely relate,” she says. Adding, “(The address was) a wonderful and moving experience…It sent chills down my spine it was just so wonderful.” She hopes it will dispel myths and misinformation.
When she heard Congressman Joe Wilson shout, “You lie,” she says, “I thought to myself that…they need to set a better example. It comes from the top to the bottom and the constituents are taking direction from the Congressmen and that particular Congressman needed to represent himself a little better.” She says, “I would love to talk with them (members of Congress) face to face and tell them my story because what happens on Capitol Hill and what’s out there in the real world are two totally different worlds. I hear my story over and over again.”
In Trisha’s view, “It’s not about how much it will cost. It’s about how much it will cost not to have health care reform. Not only have I lost my husband, and I can’t put a price on life, my daughter has lost her father. She now gets Social Security death benefits, survivor benefits.” Trisha began softly breaking up as she told me, “My husband would have put more into the system than we are taking out now.”
Ms. Urban has since her husband’s death worked as many as 4 jobs at once. She is now down to 2, including a job in a nursing home and has started down a new career path. Trisha hopes to work in hospice care to try, in her words, “To make this event in my life something positive for somebody else.”
President Barack Obama’s speech is long over, but Trisha Urban will long remember. It is her story all to easily unheard in a world that moves too fast.