(7/1/2002) This prayer chain about an Illinois boy's gruesome sledding accident is packed with gory details, but short on useful information.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Subject: Prayers needed
Guys, this is for a friend please keep them in your prayers. Thanks, Jackie Please read, pray, then pass it on to everyone in your address book that can touch heaven for this child.
I need your help in a big way. My nephew Dean Thomson from Wheaton, Illinois needs your healing prayers. Dean is a 7th grader and was on a Boy Scout sledding trip when he smashed head-on into a tree.
He was air-lifted back to University Of Chicago Hospital to the trauma unit. Dean has multiple facial and head injuries. He has broken cheek, nose, and jaw bones and a broken eye socket. One eye had to be put back into the socket, his lips had to sewn on and his tongue stitched. His skull is cracked through, the plates separated.
He has two blood clots and the potential for meningitis. Most of my email address book is family, and we are praying for healing for Dean. Please open up your email address books and forward this to anyone you know that prays.
A prayer chain stretching across the country will most certainly send healing love to Dean, his mom and dad Melane and Scott, his brother and sister Zack and Adrienne.
Thank you to Everyone Monica
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
I'm usually hesitant to debunk prayer chains because the faith driving them is very strong. But, my research revealed that, while the story of Dean Thomson is basically true, there are many reasons not to continue this chain letter. A source from University of Chicago Hospitals didn't have details, but recalled a child who fit the description:
"This appears to be reasonably accurate. We did see a child that age with that name from that town for severe injuries (blunt head trauma, supposedly received while sledding) in mid January, 2001. (I don't know about the gruesome details.) He was discharged at the end of the month, but still comes back for follow-up care."
Chain-Breaker Jennifer had a personal link to Dean Thomson's story and recalls some details:
"I lived and worked near Chicago (Wheaton is about 20 miles West of Chicago) last winter and one of my co-worker's teenaged sons was on the trip (snow camping) with his Boy Scout Troop. In fact it was her son that took charge of the situation, administered the initial emergency first aid and organized a group to hike out and get help. The Monday following the accident, my friend was still quite shaken up about something so serious hitting so close to home, but she was also beaming with pride for her son. The town of Wheaton is correct. Not sure about the gory details, however. But I do know that the injuries were very serious and the accident resulted from a couple of kids not following directions and safety procedures."
This prayer chain still rates a thumbs down for two reasons.
The description of the injuries is oddly gruesome coming from someone who wants to help an injured relative. This is the type of graphic sensationalism typically seen in hoaxes and scams. Does the image of a child with a dislocated eyeball and severed lips make you more likely to pray than if the kid just had a broken leg?
It's outdated. The incident happened in January, 2001, but the chain letter continues to circulate despite the fact that dean has recoved nicely. Since this e-mail plea isn't dated and contains few verifiable facts, it will continue to circulate long after the Thomson family has put the whole ordeal behind them. Propagating this chain only brings the kind of web infamy that no Junior High School student should have to deal with.
It's not my place tell anyone when to pray and when not to (and I get the ugliest letters from readers when I do), so say a quick prayer if you must, then break this chain!