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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I would like to thank you for printing our letter about our two daughters, and how we were inspired by Emily Perl Kingsley's poem "Welcome to Holland." Our daughters eventually lost their lives to epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic condition.

When I saw the letter in the newspaper, I suddenly realized that no mention had been made of the wonderful, dedicated people who are working so hard behind the scenes to find a cure or a preventative for this terrible condition.

Readers who would like more information about epidermolysis bullosa or who would like to become involved in this worthwhile cause should contact: The National EB Registry, c/o Madeline Weiner, RN, 1 Bolin Heights, Campus Box 3369, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3369. (E.B. research is currently under way at the University of North Carolina.)

Also: DEBRA of America, 40 Rector St., Suite 1403, New York, NY 10006. (The Web site is www.debra.org.) This is the international headquarters, and contributions are welcome. -- BILL MAULTSBY, ORANGE, TEXAS

DEAR BILL: No one could have read your letter and not have been touched by it. My readers and I join you in the hope that the disease that took your daughters will soon be a thing of the past. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am a 77-year-old World War II veteran, and I regularly visit and entertain the disenfranchised children of our town.

I have never experienced a tragedy as great as Mr. and Mrs. Maultsby's, whose daughters suffered from a severe skin malady, but my heart cried out for them and then it quickly turned to cheers!

Their daughters would never have excelled in oratory or music without their parents' love, patience and direction. If this country had homes like theirs for all our children, we could tear down the jails and sing of life's accomplishments.

We must strive to have faith and hope in our lives, but love must be the dominant force. -- BILL WATERS, LEBANON, TENN.

DEAR BILL: That's true. And if we measure people by their abilities, rather than prejudging them because of their disabilities, we would have a far more inclusive and constructive society utilizing all of the unique talent that's available.

DEAR ABBY: One of my co-workers is being married in the spring. She has announced that none of her co-workers will be invited to her wedding.

That's fine with me because I understand the expense involved with a large guest list. However, she is strongly hinting that I should do her a favor and host a bridal shower for her -- a co-workers' party.

I was under the impression that bridal attendants should host the showers. Am I wrong? -- FEELING GUILTY

DEAR FEELING GUILTY: No -- you are right. Also, no one should be asked to a bridal shower who isn't being invited to attend the wedding.

P.S. Don't feel guilty for ignoring the hints. You're doing her a favor by preventing her from being criticized.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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