Grant Wilkins’ first wife, Diane, in an iron lung in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Grant Wilkins.
By Grant Wilkins, past RI director and member of the Rotary Club of Denver, Colorado, USA.
In 1951, as a young father of three children ages 5, 2, and 3-months (the youngest born prematurely and still in the hospital), I contracted Bulbar Polio.
My throat and vocal cords were paralyzed, and I couldn’t talk or swallow. A tracheotomy and intravenous feedings kept me alive for two weeks until the paralysis started letting up.
My wife came to visit me for the first time after those two weeks, and mentioned she wasn’t feeling well. A spinal tap found she had the Lumbar Polio virus, and she was immediately admitted to the polio ward. Within 24 hours, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down and could not breathe on her own. Continue reading
Tanya Wolff at the end of Disney’s marathon-and-a-half.
By Tanya F. Wolff, past governor of District 6330 in Ontario, Canada
I am not a runner. I can jog. I can walk and I can hike. I do these things for those in the world who cannot.
The PolioPlus program was already in effect when I joined Rotary in 1992. Seeing as I have travelitis (the need to travel constantly), the idea of traveling to another part of the world was a Rotary opportunity that I could not pass up. Continue reading
By Jennifer Jones, moderator for Rotary’s Livestream event World Polio Day: Making History
I was perhaps six or seven when I began to wonder why my grandmother walked differently – why she had one leg that was shorter than the other? As I would later learn, she was a polio survivor but to me she was simply grandma.
A few decades later, this disease would play an even more active role in my life, when I became a member of Rotary. Continue reading
Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung), published this year in Brazil, tells the story of Eliana Zagui, a polio survivor who has lived for decades in a hospital in Brazil.
By Eliana Zagui, author of Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung)
Before it was eradicated through the effort of massive immunization campaigns in 1989, poliomyelitis was prevalent in Brazil. The lack of vaccine and poor sanitation in small towns resulted in thousands of victims a year. Avoiding polio was often a matter of luck.
In January 1976, at the age of two, my luck ran out. I woke up with a fever and weak lower limbs. Although my parents were used to my recurrent episodes of sore throat, they brought me to the nearest city of Jaboticabal for medical treatment. The next day, lacking a diagnosis, I was sent to Ribeirão Preto, a larger city with better medical facilities. By the time the doctors Continue reading
By Polly Hincks, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of West Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Polio is a mystery. In its time it brought terror. It indiscriminently struck with minor flu-like illness in one person, death to the person next door, paralysis of the muscles in a leg or shoulder, or a lifetime spent in an iron lung.
I met up with this evil bug in August 1951. Continue reading
By Celia Elena Cruz de Giay, RI director
In December 1995, my husband, Luis, and I visited Bombay (now Mumbai), India, during his year as president-elect of Rotary International. We were there to participate in a national polio immunization day and were very impressed by the social mobilization that went into it. It was the largest immunization day to that point.
When the day arrived, more than 10,000 volunteers were distributed throughout the country, easily identifiable in their yellow jackets and caps imprinted with the Rotary wheel. Continue reading
By Gabriela Simionato Klein, public relations specialist
If you take a walk through the Iguatemi, a luxury shopping mall in São Paulo, you can expect to see prestigious brand-name garments from all over the world. But if you strolled through the mall in early August, you’d also have seen the familiar red, white and yellow of the End Polio Now logo on T-shirts in the display windows of Forum Tufi Duek.
The display coincided with a special party the Brazilian label hosted for top model Isabelli Fontana, one of the latest people to become a Rotary Ambassador for polio eradication. Continue reading
Spanish Rotarians promote the World’s Biggest Commercial and polio eradication.
By Pablo Ruiz, Rotary Public Image coordinator for Spain and Portugal
As a Rotary public image coordinator, I have the responsibility to do whatever I can to increase the public’s awareness of Rotary and what we stand for. The goal is of course to increase membership.
In Spain and Portugal, we have just under 8,000 Rotarians, and our resources are certainly limited. When we saw that Korean Rotarians were leading all countries in the number of photos uploaded to the World’s Biggest Commercial, we were inspired to action. We knew we had to come up with a strategy to increase our participation. Continue reading
Manuel Cordeiro’s This Close picture for the World’s Biggest Commercial.
By Manuel Cordeiro, member of the Rotary Club of Vila Real, Portugal
In January, I took on the responsibility of coordinating Portugal’s participation in the World´s Biggest Commercial video. After hearing from some fellow Rotarians, we followed a very simple strategy: involve the entire family of Rotary in this task. Continue reading
Ali Maow Maalin in 1977. Photo by John F. Wickett/WHO
Editor’s note: Ali Maow Maalin, a district polio officer, passed away on 22 July in his home district of Merka, Somalia, due to a sudden illness. Below is a blog post by George R. Camp, a Rotary Foundation Cadre technical adviser and past governor of District 7230 (Bermuda and part of New York, USA), which appeared on our blog recently honoring Maalin.
Who are the true heroes of polio eradication?
Somalia, once polio-free, is again batting an outbreak of the virus. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, there were 45 cases of polio in Somalia this year as of 9 July, nearly half the cases occurring worldwide in 2013. Continue reading