I thought I’d never walk again

: Nancy Wright Beasley, who wrote The Little Lion, sits on one of the motorcycles used in the stage adaptation of her book during rehearsal at Swift Creek Mill Theatre. Photo by Clement Britt

Nancy Wright Beasley, who wrote The Little Lion, sits on one of the motorcycles used in the stage adaptation of her book during rehearsal at Swift Creek Mill Theatre. Photo by Clement Britt

By Nancy Wright Beasley, a polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Brandermill, Virginia, USA

I thought I’d never walk again, but I did.

I thought I’d never talk about polio either, but I’ve regularly shared my childhood memories of the disease since joining the Rotary Club of Brandermill in 2005. I had been  invited to speak about my first book, Izzy’s Fire. That’s where I first learned about PolioPlus, and decided — that day — to join Rotary International’s fight to eradicate the disease. I often say that I’m the only speaker who gave a speech then never left.

I contracted polio in the summer of 1952, in the middle of one of the worst epidemics in U.S. history. Continue reading

Polio survivors say ‘thank you’

Carol Ferguson presents the Collage of Gratitutde

Carol Ferguson, right, presents the Collage of Gratitude to Carol Pandak, Director of PolioPlus for Rotary International.

By Rotary staff

On 9 September, we received a visitor at Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, who reminded us just how important the fight to eradicate polio is.

Every year, fewer and fewer cases of polio are reported, bringing us one-step closer to a polio-free world. Before Rotary launched the PolioPlus program in 1985, some 350,000 people a year were infected with the disease worldwide. Carol Ferguson was one of those people. Continue reading

Polio survivor’s fight to live a normal life

Tingle, Beard and Rohling

Peggy Tingle with Neal Beard (left) and Keith Rohling, president-elect of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club.

By Neal Beard, a member of the Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA

“I was 18 when I contracted the disease,” Peggy said, as she spoke into a lowered, stationary microphone set up at the front of our meeting room. She spoke from a motorized wheelchair, reading from her notes.

Peggy was the guest speaker at our club meeting recently, and her story underscored for me why we need to remain committed to eradicating this terrible disease of polio. Statistics are one thing, but when you hear someone’s story who has battled the disease, it takes your emotional resolve to a completely different level. Continue reading

Our greatest gift to future generations

Hussey and children in Nigeria

Ann Lee Hussey and children in Nigeria

By Ann Lee Hussey, a member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA

Polio can affect children anywhere. The poliovirus doesn’t discriminate based on geography, skin color, or religion. If we don’t eradicate polio now, the world could see cases rebound to 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years.

I’ve participated in 27 immunization campaigns, leading 23, throughout Africa and Asia, not because I’m a polio survivor, but because I believe polio eradication will be one of our greatest gifts to future generations. Continue reading

Why I am sharing my story as a polio survivor

Kerry Jacobson

Kerry Jacobson

By Kerry Jacobson

I feel more urgently than ever the need to share how polio impacted my life. In 1952, I contracted bulbar-polio, the rarest and most dangerous of the strains of the polio virus. I had just turned 7. I caught the virus from a neighborhood friend of my older sister who had been playing at our house and then was admitted to the hospital with polio.

A week later, I was in our family doctor’s office to hear the diagnosis: bulbar polio — very critical. My mother and I were sent on to Mercy Hospital. I remember being quickly taken from my mother, put in a wheelchair, whisked away to a nearby room with other children, and then wheeled past a group of onlookers, including my mother, who were kept separate from us behind a rope to prevent contact. Continue reading

All the steps I have taken since polio

Linda at St. Mary's hospital, 18 months old.

Linda at St. Mary’s hospital, 18 months old.

By Linda L. Christianson, polio survivor

I was stricken with polio at the age of 7 months. From 1948 to 1953 the disease crippled 250,000 children a year. There was no vaccine to protect me from the virus at the time. My young parents took me to St. Mary’s Hospital, in Rochester, Minnesota, on 1 October, 1948.

That would become my home for the next 14 months. Fortunately, my three-year-old sister did not become affected by the virus. In many families several children would be stricken. Continue reading

Rotarians are a powerful force for polio eradication

A child is immunized against polio.

A child is immunized against polio.

By Steve Crane, a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle, Washington, USA, and a polio survivor. Crane has been appointed district polio eradication advocacy chair by successive governors in District 5030.

Rotary members are being asked if recent headlines mean there is some doubt about ending polio for good. Our answer is that the end of polio in India is the headline to remember.

We are at the heart of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership of Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and many national governments. Rotary has contributed $1.3 billion to the GPEI through PolioPlus. And it is committed to adding up to $105 million per year over the next four years through the End Polio Now: Make History Today campaign.  Continue reading

Turning bicycle parts into wheelchairs for polio survivors

Ayuba Burki Gufwan, a polio survivor and member of Rotary, founded Beautiful Gate, an organization that makes wheelchairs for Nigerian polio survivors. Here Gufwan speaks about his mission and about advocating for polio immunization.

Read Gufwan’s blog post about Beautiful Gate.

Rotary Miles at work fighting polio in Chad


This gallery contains 3 photos.

By Ann Lee Hussey, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA “Are you willing to lead a National Immunization Day team to Chad?” the email read. My immediate response was YES! Having worked in … Continue reading

Traveling down a rough road with polio

131107_birdBy Patrick J. Bird, polio survivor and author of A Rough Road

During the polio epidemic of 1940, I contracted polio and became ensconced for 19 months in a “reconstruction home” far from my family. I was only 4 years old, and since all the other children were at least twice my age, I was initially placed in a room by myself instead of one of the dormitories.

Enduring loneliness, painful treatments, and lengthy, frustrating rehabilitation sessions, I learned to overcome my fears and to prevail Continue reading