Once upon a time there was a little girl who wasn’t limited by her limitations…
We Should All Fight Like Girls
1954. The year of the Polio Pioneers. Approximately 1.8 million American elementary-school children: 650,000 received Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine; 750,000 received a placebo; 430,000 were controls, receiving neither the vaccine nor a placebo injection.
Gloria was the right age, but, for her, the vaccine came six years too late. In 1948, during a polio outbreak in Syracuse, NY, seven-month-old Gloria contracted polio.
It took her until age four to figure out a way she could walk. But by age ten, she made good on her determination to not wear braces forever. She has undergone 57 surgeries.
I’ve had one. I can’t imagine.
For Gloria, life hurts. It’s been that way as long as she can remember. She never let it stop her, but she couldn’t keep ahead of post-polio syndrome forever and now she needs some help to keep going. I’m excited to let you know that you can help! A couple of years ago, Gloria’s sister set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money so Gloria could afford a wheelchair-accessible van as she deals with the effects of post-polio syndrome.
It didn’t get much attention, but Gloria had set her sights elsewhere. Last year and this, she entered NMEDA’s Local Hero contest in hopes of winning a van. She needs one she can ride her electric wheelchair into, and then drive from the wheelchair. She came close in her category, but didn’t win.
It’s time to revisit raising money to purchase a van.
Post-polio syndrome is taking its toll, and as much as she’d like to overcome its symptoms, that’s not the way it works. Each year she is weaker. It has become impossible for her to stand with her arm crutches while the lift raises her wheelchair into her minivan, and then walk to the driver seat. It has gone from excruciating to impossible as she continues to lose muscle strength.
If it were up to Gloria, she wouldn’t share her struggle and ask for money. If there’s one thing she’s learned in her life with polio and post-polio syndrome, it’s to push herself get things done. But there’s only so far a body can be pushed.
At this point, driving anywhere requires coordination. Friends help when she arrives at church and events like my kids’ piano recital. A neighbor helps her get into her van and back into her apartment whenever he can. But if there isn’t going to be someone to help at Point A and Point B and back at Point A, Gloria can’t go.
No one should have to give up things they love if it’s just a matter of having the right tools. For Gloria, it’s the right van. So I’m using what platform I have, and asking everyone I can to help. I’m asking YOU to help. Even a donation of $5 would be appreciated.
I know that even $5 can be too much at times, and I understand that there is no end to the worthy causes that deserve support. If you can’t donate, please pray for Gloria, and for her GoFundMe campaign. And help spread the word.
Gloria believed in me
If you’ve heard my personal pro-life story, you’ve met Gloria, even if you didn’t hear her name. She saw many babies born in her time as a nurse, and was the friend who assured my mom that I’d be okay when I was born prematurely:
Girls are fighters.
Nine days later she was there to meet me when my parents brought me home from the hospital.
I fought like a girl. And survived.
I haven’t always been a fighter since then. I’ve been unmoored and unmotivated. Sometimes I just don’t care.
But Gloria’s life has required fight.
If there’s one thing that the polio survivors of Gloria’s generation have in common, it’s that they’re fighters. Polio preferred kids but didn’t care how much money their family had, or what color they were, or what they believed. Gloria told me the Polio Motto:
In order to be accepted as “normal” you had to go above and beyond what a “normal” person could do.
They did that. So many young people overcame extreme obstacles and now, as post-polio syndrome steals their strength, they again have to put in more effort than the majority of their peers.
As Gloria sums it up, she’s lived a life of “No, you can’t possibly do this” to “Yes, I can, and DID.” Now she needs help we can give in her fight to remain independent and able to do the things she loves – serve at church, spend time with and support friends, and volunteer at the hospital.
I know my old friend doesn’t want to get her hopes up. Raising enough money seems impossible. Handicap vans are costly. Let’s make one more “you can’t” thrown at Gloria into WE DID IT.