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Posted by Lisa Strawbridge - email
WASHINGTON (WTOL) – Warren and Wendy Brown say their daughter Alexa and the lingering questions about childhood cancer motivated their trip to Washington, D.C.
Alexa died in August. She was the third child the community lost in the Clyde cancer cluster. Ohio health investigators say something caused the kids to get cancer, but they still don't know what it is.
"We want to get a commitment from the legislators that they will fund the Caroline Pryce Walker Act at the level that it was intended to be funded," said Warren.
That law passed without any objection from lawmakers in July 2008 and is supposed to give pediatric cancer research $30 million each year for five years. However in 2009, politicians did not provide the funding.
One of the interesting aspects of the governmental process in Washington, D.C., is that members of Congress can pass all the bills they want into law. But if there's no funding, some of those bills are rendered meaningless. That's where the appropriations committee comes in.
With ribbons, DVDs and a copy of a letter they sent to the president, the Browns walked all over Capitol Hill targeting Senate appropriations members who can release the money for kids and cancer research.
"I promised her as she laid on her bed weeks before she died, I said ‘We will do this. Some how. Some way.' I will not let this lie," said Warren.
Outside of Ohio, no senator would meet personally with the Browns, but they did have meetings with high-level staffers. They say the meetings left them with a lot of hope. The Browns were told that the senators knew who they were and that the politicians were listening. They were assured the funding would be addressed.
Representative Dennis Kucinich favored the funding.
"I will be talking with people about the bill and see if there's a way we can move it along," Kucinich said.
Representative Marcy Kaptur criticized the Ohio Department of Health concerning its investigation into the Clyde cancer cluster.
The biggest support for the funding has come from Representative Bob Latta who helped put the funding issue back on the table. He secured $10 million in funding just after Alexa died, a third of what was allocated in the bill.
Senator Sherrod Brown has been making speeches, writing letters and influencing other senators to get behind the funding.
"His level of compassion and passion for the issue I think is maybe even a little more intense than it was when we met him on our porch this past summer," Warren said.
By the end of their trip to D.C., the Browns say they feel it was well worth it -- for them, for Alexa and for families suffering from childhood cancer.
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