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Society

Rod Stewart Gives Families $23K To Protest Health Bill

| by Lauren Briggs

When a group of disabled Louisiana kids and their parents wanted to drive to Washington, D.C., to protest the Medicaid cut proposal included in the Republican health care bill, they hadn't even raised half of the money they needed to make the trip. 

So when financial help came in the form of an unexpected ally -- pop star Sir Rod Stewart -- they were blown away.

"It was beyond our wildest dreams -- not just anybody paid for it, but Rod Stewart!" said organizer Angela Lorio, according to CNN. "God always hears your prayers and answers them -- they just might not be answered in the way that you expect."

Lorio, a Catholic and Republican who voted for President Donald Trump, teamed up with Jessica Michot, who is a Democrat, a Lutheran and a Hillary Clinton voter. They call their group the Trach Mommas of Louisiana, named after the breathing tubes that both of their young sons use.

Without Medicaid, both moms said that they would fear for the lives of their children.

So with $7,000 raised out of the $30,000 they needed to cover the costs of traveling with sick children, they went out to make their voices heard.

The trip got media coverage from CNN, which Stewart happened to be watching at the time.

"He was so touched and heartbroken and actually teary," recalled Arnold Stiefel, Stewart's long-time manager. "He said to me, 'As a father of eight I have to do something now.'"

As soon as the piece aired, Stewart emailed Stiefel.

"I've just seen something on CNN that's heartbreaking," the "Maggie May" singer wrote at the time. "It was a group of families with severely disabled children who are driving to Washington to confront about health care cuts. See if you can find out who they are. I'd like to help in some way."

Stiefel replied that he could not "think of a better cause" and that he would "by all means" make it happen.

They tracked down Lorio and Michot, and Stewart send them a check for the remainder of their trip expenses.

Lorio said it was "amazing" and that she was thrilled to deposit "the biggest check" of her life, while Stewart showed a video tribute to the Trach Mommas during a New Jersey concert on July 25.

"Some of you may know that I live in America and pay my taxes here," said Stewart at the event. "I'm neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but I am a father."

Stewart rarely discusses his political views publicly, often opting instead to point out that Trump is a friend of his and that he does not wish to comment on the president, though he did say on one occasion that Trump is not "made to be a president," notes the Daily Mail.

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