RI to be inducted into Polio Hall of Fame
The Polio Hall of Fame monument honors pioneers in the battle to eradicate polio. Photo courtesy of Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.
In 1958, the United States was well on its way to winning the battle against polio. Mass immunization using the Salk vaccine had succeeded in decreasing the number of cases by more than 90 percent from the peak of 58,000 cases in 1952. Field trials of the Sabin oral vaccine had just begun.
The same year, the Polio Hall of Fame was established by the Georgia Department of Labor’s Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. Seventeen pioneering heroes in the early battle against polio were inducted into the hall, including former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and vaccine inventors Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin.
To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Polio Hall of Fame will induct as members the four spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative: Rotary International, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.
The induction ceremony will take place on 14 November at 3:30 p.m. in the institute’s quadrangle, featuring special guest speakers Dr. Peter Salk, eldest son of Dr. Jonas Salk, and Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton, a former Warm Springs polio patient.
Representatives of the new inductee organizations and family members of the original inductees will attend the ceremony, and the public is also invited. Rotary Foundation Trustee John Germ, who chairs Rotary’s US$100 Million Challenge Committee, will represent Rotary International.
The inductee organizations will be honored on a large bronze plaque detailing their contributions to ongoing polio eradication efforts, and the contributions of the original inductees will be highlighted with a matching plaque. Both plaques will be permanently displayed in front of the Polio Hall of Fame’s monument outside Founders Hall, which was unveiled by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1958.
Following the ceremony, attendees are invited to a reception at 18:30 and a Franklin D. Roosevelt's Founders Day Dinner at 19:00 in the institute's Georgia Hall. Cost of the reception and dinner is $175 per person, with proceeds benefiting the Roosevelt Warm Springs Development Fund.
"It promises to be a great day and a great way to recognize what the four global partners are doing," says Greg Schmieg, executive director of the institute. "The fact that polio was pretty much eradicated in this country 50 years ago doesn't change the fact that it is still an ongoing problem in many parts of the world, and what Rotary and the others have done and continue to do remains a tremendous example that deserves to be honored."
For more information on the institute, go to www.rooseveltrehab.org. For reservations to attend the dinner, call 706-655-5669 by 3 November.