I developed polio in London, Ontario when I was eight years old. Years later, I started volunteering with Ontario March of Dimes, now March of Dimes Canada and have been a volunteer for over 25 years.
I became involved with March of Dimes because I was desperately looking for answer to what was causing my new pain, weakness and fatigue. My life changed when I attended a conference called “Polio: A Second Challenge” held in Toronto, Ontario, and sponsored by March of Dimes, and I learned that I had post-polio syndrome.
This inspired me to chair the Sudbury Post-Polio Support Group for 11 years. Presently I Chair Polio Canada and sit on the board of March of Dimes Canada, and Polio Health International St Louis, Missouri. I have attended Post-Polio Conferences in St. Louis, Missouri, Toronto, Vancouver, Newark, New Jersey and Warm Springs, Georgia. I participate annually in the L.I.V.E. (Leadership in Volunteer Education) conference, sponsored by March of Dimes Canada I continually advocate for better awareness of polio and how devastating it is not only to those who have the virus, but also to their families.
I want to see every child inoculated. This is important even in the western world. Polio is only a flight away. I remind all parents about the devastation of polio – and that it lasts for the rest of your life. Post-polio syndrome robs adults of their freedom. They will live with pain, new muscle weakness and unbelievable fatigue. Many survivors like me have had to return to the assistive devices, i.e. wheelchairs and braces; that we had fought so hard to throw away as children. The best way to keep the memory alive is to join our campaign, if you are a survivor, a family member or a concerned citizen get the word out about polio and WHY it is still important today!
According to the WHO, polio immunization saves 3 million lives and prevents 750,000 disabilities worldwide each year, making it ‘the single greatest public health achievement of all time.’ (CPHA – online).
In 1951, March of Dimes Canada was founded to raise funds for a vaccine to end the scourge of polio – and our advocacy continues today.
October is Polio and Post-Polio Awareness Month. We are starting a social media campaign to remind people that polio survivors are still here and living with post-polio syndrome. As a polio advocate, we hope you can help us to spread the word and use the hashtag #polioawarenessmonth
To do this, we are encouraging people (in 25 words or less) to write our hashtag and the “Polio still exists in 2014” in black marker on a whiteboard or white bristol board. If you could send a picture to March of Dimes Canada (via email at firstname.lastname@example.org) of you holding this, we can post to our social media accounts; letting people know the lifelong consequences of polio and post -polio syndrome.