Remarks Announcing Federal Support of the National Health Fair Partnership Program

August 5, 1982

I know that the schedule has been quite disrupted and that I am supposed to have tagged along now and spoken to you after you had been well informed by others who were going to address you. And I know that we're also behind schedule and late. And I don't know just how to approach this and tell you why we were late. Been here 18 months -- never happened. What really scared me was when the gentleman who's been here for many, many years was with us and said it had never happened. We've been between here and the floor below in the elevator. [Laughter] We had plenty of time to get acquainted with each other. [Laughter]

I could think if it hadn't happened in just 18 months, well, that wasn't so -- but when someone that's been here a great many years said it hadn't happened before in all those years, I began to wonder whether I might not become a permanent fixture of the structure here.

Well, I thank you very much. And, at last, welcome to the White House. It does my spirit good to be among so many people who have the faith and the good will to move mountains. And, believe me, you're doing that.

I think the effort that you've heard about today is an example -- or that you're going to hear more about today -- of public-private partnership at its best.

I understand that last March, after Secretary Schweiker and Congressman Gore kicked off this campaign, over 500,000 people received free health-care education and screening services. Now, this is the type of private sector initiative that Bill Verity and members of the Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives have been bringing to my attention all year.

We want to congratulate the National Health Screening Council for Voluntary Organizations for serving as a catalyst. Our administration deeply appreciates organizations like yours trailblazing new private sector initiatives.

So, congratulations also go to the media for providing 132 hours of television promotion and 31,000 inches of newspaper coverage. And, matter of fact, if they wanted to use some of the coverage they've been giving me and transfer it to you, I'd be -- [laughter] -- be more than pleased.

Now, please don't think that I'm not grateful, but after that fine start, we just want to challenge you to do even more. I'm here to tell you all that we like your style. We like the way you've put together groups of people at the grassroots to offer free preventive and health promotion services at no cost to the taxpayer. It's estimated that every business dollar of support that you raise generates an average of $40 in services to communities. And that's not bad -- $1 for 40.

Secretary Bell and Secretary Schweiker have assured me today that they're going to join in the health fair effort, working with you as partners, providing health promotion services wherever possible. And, of course, they were supposed to have already spoken to you before I said that, but now they will be speaking to you. This is the type of program that Secretary Schweiker's been emphasizing in his health promotion initiative that you are supposed to have heard about, but will hear about.

When the people of this country are encouraged to use their own initiative, they accomplish great things. I think we'll see the proof of this in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. I've felt for a long time that the work of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee isn't good work, it's great work because of the dedication and selflessness of the people on that committee and the generosity of millions of Americans.

You know, these are the first Olympic games in all the thousands of years history of those games that will be put on totally by the private sector. And the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee tells me that they'll be depending on volunteers and community groups. In fact, they have over 1,200 volunteers working right now on citizen committees. And that number is expected to go to 10,000 by 1984. It's not government dollars but voluntary efforts that keep America participating in a tradition that goes back thousands of years.

This is our American spirit, and with help from the media, from business, from volunteer organizations and the government, I know that this year your health fairs will serve many more people than in the past. And hopefully we can even save some lives.

I understand you heard about -- well, no, I don't know that you heard about this example before I arrived. So you will. Anyway, I wish I could thank each of you for personally getting involved. Let me just say again how grateful we are for your initiative and how important it is to build on your accomplishments.

Dr. Brensike tells me that Governor Thompson in Illinois has taken a strong leadership position to promote this partnership in the statewide level. And I hope many other States will join in.

So, I'll thank you again. And I don't know whether it fits with anything else or with health fairs or not, but I try to remember the case of the gentleman who went in for a physical examination and then said to the doctor, ``Okay. Give it to me straight. I can take it.'' And the doctor said, ``Let me put it to you this way. Eat the best part of the chicken first.'' [Laughter]

So, I shall now turn this over to Dick Schweiker and greet this group here, and walk down the stairs and go back to the office. [Laughter]

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:25 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House to representatives of corporations, the news media, and voluntary organizations involved in the health fair program.

Dr. John H. Brensike is founder of the National Health Screening Council for Voluntary Organizations.