A family in Toledo, Ohio, is speaking out after an anonymous person responded to their plea for money to help cover their son’s medical treatments by saying their child should die.
KC Ahlers’ infant son, Randy James, or “RJ,” was diagnosed with two rare medical conditions when he was born in July. One is Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, which means the center of his brain is underdeveloped. He was also born with Trisomy 9 Mosaic Syndrome, a rare genetic chromosome disease.
“In his three months on this earth he has been to 15 specialist appointments,” Angela Ahlers, RJ’s mother, wrote on a GoFundMe page she set up to help pay for their son’s medical bills in October.
Although the family has insurance, Angela Ahlers wrote that the bills are beginning to stack up. One genetic test alone would cost $10,000, she said, but their insurance company stated that it’s “Not medically Necessary.”
The Ahlers family has managed to raise about $4,000, according to their fundraising page, but they still have a long way to go to reach their $20,000 goal.
To draw more attention to their plight, KC Ahlers put up six signs around a local mall describing RJ’s disabilities and asking onlookers to donate to their GoFundMe. Last week, he spotted a sign posted below one of his own that read: “Stop asking for money. Let the baby die. It’s called Darwinism. Happy Holidays.”
KC Ahlers told local news station WTVG that the sign “shocked” him and that it was hard to believe that someone could display that level of “cruelty.”
“I came out. I saw it. Immediately took the one down. There were other ones that were up, but somebody, some other good Samaritans kicked them down,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Ahlers family’s dilemma and societal attitudes around disabilities — like the one displayed on the sign — are not uncommon.
Multiple disability activists have condemned the sign on social media, including Emily Ladau, a wheelchair user and editor-in-chief of Rooted in Rights, a website that fights stigma against the disability community.
Ladau tweeted that the sign illustrates “how little society thinks of disabled people” and that the current health insurance system is an “abomination” that compels people, including the Ahlers family, to “seek monetary supports to avoid financial ruin.”
Indifference toward the needs of disabled people by for-profit insurance companies and society at large has led to dire circumstances.
In February, the disability community mourned the death of prominent disability activist Carrie Ann Lucas, whose obituary stated that she died because “an arbitrary denial from an insurance company caused a plethora of health problems.”
The issue is so prevalent among people with disabilities that activist Ady Barkan in September grilled presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) over her version of “Medicare for All,” which — unlike Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) single-payer bill that Harris had previously supported — would give Americans the option to keep their private health insurance plans.
Under Harris’ plan, “millions of people like me will still be denied care by their for-profit insurance company,” Barkan, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, said, which would result in people avoiding “needed care because of high co-pays and deductibles.”
HuffPost reached out to the Ahlers family for comment, but did not receive an immediate response. Despite the signs, it seems KC Ahlers will continue to find ways to help his son.
“We want to raise our son to not reciprocate hatred,” he told WTVG. “We want to battle hatred with love. So, we obviously know somebody that did this is disturbed and we hope they get help.”
The Ahlers family is planning a fundraiser on Dec. 15 in Toledo.