December 19, 2008: Barry Cauchon
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States who was elected to four consecutive terms in the White House. He became President in 1933 and served until the beginning of his 4th term when he died in office on April 12, 1945. During his entire presidency, Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down due to polio. What many people do not know is that he contracted the disease in August, 1921 (a full 12 years before he became President). Roosevelt, his family and staff did an amazing job to conceal his paralysis from the public and many citizens never even knew that he suffered from the affliction. However, this did not stop him from looking for a cure.
After he became President, Roosevelt regularly spoke on behalf of finding a cure for polio and encouraged people to go out and collect on its behalf. He believed that if every person in the country donated just one dime, a cure could be found for the disease. He founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (which would later be called the March of Dimes due to his ‘dime collection’ program).
Roosevelt was conscious of the financial stress that the country had been under due to the Great Depression, so he encouraged the people of the United States to donate just one dime to the cause. He reasoned that if everyone in the country donated just one dime, it would help to find the cure. And his efforts paid off. The funds from the March of Dimes program were used for research that eventually lead to vaccines which completely wiped out polio throughout most of the world.
Alas, Roosevelt did not live to see the success of his campaign as the cure was not be found until 10 years after his death. Interestingly, on April 12, 1955, on the 10th anniversary of FDR’s death, Jonas Salk announced to the world that a cure for polio had been found and they would shortly begin inoculations using the new vaccines. By 1957, inoculations had begun and the fight to eradicate polio was on.
Another writer put it this way.
“And that is the reason Franklin is on the dime. He’s not on the twenty-dollar bill, or something fancy. He’s on the dime. He’d love that, because a dime is something everybody can have in their pocket. It’s not a thousand-dollar bill, it’s the dime. And it connects him to polio and to the March of Dimes, which is still doing all this amazing work for spinal cord injury today all over the world. Franklin created the March of Dimes. And so his legacy is just huge”.