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The Faces of '96

A Test of Wills:

Sunny Cloud

December 27, 1996|D. JAMES ROMERO

An inmate author does his best to save children from a life of crime.

An actress struggles to regain her life and livelihood after losing both legs in a crash.

The wife of a socially prominent attorney leaves her husband and children to marry a convicted murderer.

A wife-attorney defends her White House advisor-husband after he is photographed in the arms of another woman.

You met these remarkable people on the pages of Life & Style in 1996. Our writers and photographers took you into their worlds for a moment, to ponder their dilemmas and learn about what makes them tick.

And then, because the news is the news, they vanished from our view.

But their stories did not end once you had read about them. Here, we catch up with several of 1996's most memorable people.

*

When Sunny Cloud set out to market home drug test kits for parents to use on their teenagers, she had no idea it would become a test of her own mettle.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent her a warning: The test was not approved for home use. (There were also concerns within the FDA about what a parent might do should a child test positive for narcotics.)

Cloud, a single mom, continued to sell the kit out of her suburban Atlanta home. After all, all it was was a urine cup and a box to send it to a federally certified laboratory (the same kit approved for workplace testing). Parents could call a phone number to find out the results a few days later.

But this test also became a test of presidential politics.

The Republicans, led by House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J. Bliley (R-Va.), charged that the Clinton administration was being soft on drugs by putting pressure on Cloud to stop selling her kits. Soon President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were backing Cloud, using her as a poster child for government red tape and saying, in effect, that she would be vindicated.

She was.

Sales doubled around election time, and they're still going strong. Also, soon after the election, Cloud reported that the FDA sent a letter to her reneging its objection. Cloud, 47, feels relief but she said her war against drugs has only begun.

"This is about the well-being of our kids," she said. "Not politics."

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