For all its Big Box glory and global commerce, America still tries to support its local treasures. One of those local treasures sits in the little town of Kaneville, 45 miles west of Chicago. As a farming town for more than 150 years, the community sits at the intersection of several country roads. There is a brightly painted blacksmith shop and several tall church steeples in town. One local bank has a small branch in Kaneville. To the east, a massive set of fields that alternates between sod and beans and corn as the market dictates. So Kaneville is both a town of perpetual values and constant change.
The real heart of the community is a general store perched at the corner of Main Street and Harter Road. Colloquially known as the “Purple Store” for its lavender paint job, the actual name of the business is Hill’s Country Store. Here’s what one reviewer says about the place on Yelp!
“This is a great lil‘ country store from yesteryear. The owners are such nice folks. They have groceries and ice cream with handmade shakes and malts. Lunch meat sandwiches and pulled pork, sloppy joes and pizza. I like to go here on weekend mornings and sit at one of the picnic tables and enjoy a great coffee and maybe a breakfast sandwich and watch the morning unfold in Kaneville. A must stop if you’re in the area. You won’t be disappointed. And by the way. They also have homemade baked goodies such as cookies and pies.”
The local charm is wonderful, but among cyclists, the Purple Store is known as a key stopping point for breaks and fuel when pedaling miles of country roads around Kaneville. The store is fully stocked with sports drinks, nutrition bars and real food for cyclists. On a typical weekend, dozens of cyclists breeze into Kaneville, many to refill their bottles for long rides. But honestly, many more simply like to perch at one of the tables outside the Purple Store and feel time slow down.
The woman that runs the store is Pat Hill. She’s a lovely gal with a big smile and a wholesome figure, pure country stock and with a genuine personality to mix. As you can imagine, running a business in a small town like Kaneville is as much about relationships as it is accounting, and Pat is dearly loved by the community.
Which makes it all the harder to acknowledge that she has been dealing with cancer for several years. It has spread throughout her body and even breached the blood-brain barrier. I stopped in this week and talked with Pat, but you’d never know from her appearance or her demeanor how hard the trip has been.
The community has rallied behind her with fundraisers and monetary gifts to help with medical expenses.Being a small businessperson and paying for your own medical insurance these days is difficult. Yet thankfully insurance companies can no longer bar people from gaining health care insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Otherwise people like Pat might be left out in the cold.
I have personal experience navigating the world of health care coverage before passage of the Affordable Care Act. I spent eight years navigating the world of health insurance offerings from HMOs to COBRA to high-risk insurance policies. I worked for small companies that lived in fear someone in their employ might come down with cancer. The spoken belief was that rates would skyrocket. At times I actually hid my late wife’s cancer from employers for those reasons.
Yet a lawyer friend of mine who once ran his own firm explained that the real risks of higher insurance premium rates for businesses stems from factors such as women of child-bearing age. That is not to suggest women who want babies should bear the brunt of insurance coverage. Not by any means. Those facts are only shared to point out that perceptions about the real sources of expense in health care coverage are often poorly understood, yet aggressively maintained.
As a result, progress on these issues is always incremental. But before provisions of the ACA went into effect, the task of finding sustainable health care coverage for those with pre-existing conditions was beyond daunting, especially if somehow a gap in coverage occurred. Today’s menu of health care insurance premiums is still egregiously imbalanced, with high deductibles dominating the market and employers stressed out of their minds trying to provide coverage for their employees. America needs a Public Option like other civilized nations around the world, and companies and organizations need to be excused from dealing with all this health care insurance expense and administration. It should never have been funneled through the world of employment in the first place.
But that brings us back to people like Pat Hill and her small business. These are the real touchpoints in all this. No matter how good your coverage may be, all insurance policies have flaws, and many have lifetime maximums. The specifics of Pat’s situation aren’t necessarily public, but suffice to say that vital contributions are helping her cope with the costs of her medical expenses, staying alive, and perhaps even gaining clearance from the cancer now vexing her body.
So I invite you cyclists and runners and swimmers out there to consider making a donation to help this woman whose life and business is at the heart of both a community and a lifestyle. The Purple Store is a true gem of American uniqueness. So is Pat. So if you’d like to make a donations, please send money to Old Second National Bank, PO Box 90, Kaneville, Illinois 60144. There is a support fund set up for Pat Hill, so please indicate on your envelope what the contribution is for, and the bank’s employees will see that it gets to its ultimate purpose.
Any level of contribution is welcome. I stopped in the store this week to purchase a $10 Purple Bracelet that says Love and Prayers for Pat Hill on it. The Purple Store and Pat Hill are worth a little time and money if you can give it. God Bless.