We salute the people of the area, the family and friends of Olivia Ault for helping the 6-year-old East Springfield girl win an early Christmas present in the form of the Lily LightAide, a device said to visually stimulate and encourage learning in children who are blind or visually impaired.
She won a voting contest held through wonderbaby.org, a project of the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., best known as the place where Helen Keller was educated.
The winning attitude of the Ault family makes up for the one jarring aspect to the LightAide program, which saw the device spend time with the families in the contest - that the device was turned into a conversation piece by turning it into a kind of reality star.
The voting aspect included people around the world viewing the stories of the children on the web and votes cast daily for several days.
The non-winners are given a chance to buy the $999 device, which features 224 bright and multi-colored LED lights, at half price.
And that's where we have the problem. The device apparently does what it says it can do, help children. And anything capable of providing such help would have done well to be publicized in some other way, perhaps a one-year loan to the families, with their stories told periodically to their local media. With the web, those stories would have become international, anyway.
A spokeswoman for the school said the voting took away putting the onus on the school to choose the child to be awarded the device.
The voting and selection of "winners" and "non-winners" seems to trivialize the device, though surely people are now very aware of it and its capabilities.
Olivia's family, and others near the non-winning families, are easing that tension by raising funds to defray the costs of the devices for the remaining families in the contest. Further, the family said in the case of assistive technology for special needs children, the LiteAide is one of the more affordable devices. They hailed the contest as an ingenious marketing tool.
And while that may be, we think the best thing to salute is the attitude that sees the Aults and supporters of the other families help raise funds for the remaining children from the contest.