To some Americans, World Polio Day slipped quietly under the radar last week; and understandably so. However, let’s not forget that here in the U.S., it was only 50 years ago that polio paralyzed almost 20,000 children and killed nearly 1,000 Americans each year. Most of the polio survivors were young children, many who remained in iron lungs for a lifetime – unable to play on the playground or learn to ride a bike.
It’s hard to believe that today, children are still at risk of contracting polio. Yet we are close to eliminating the threat forever – polio is 99% eradicated and remains endemic in only 3 countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
But we can’t start celebrating yet. If we do not close the door on polio now, it could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year, within ten years. That’s where you and I come in.
We are so close to wiping this crippling disease from the face of the earth – FOREVER! For $50, you can vaccinate 50 children against polio. Today is the final day to help the Shot@Life campaign reach its goal of raising funds to vaccinate 40,000 children by Halloween.
A few weeks ago I was honored to meet Dennis Ogbe, a Nigerian polio survivor and U.S. Paralympian. His story of hard work and dedication is an inspiration for us all. When Dennis told me about kids teasing him at school because he was in a wheelchair, my heart sank. No child should have to feel that pain. No child should have to live through experiences like his, from a disease that can be prevented with a vaccine. That is why I’m joining Dennis in his fight to eradicate polio.
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change history. Let’s do it while we still can.
Every Child by Two Vaccine Ambassador to the Shot@Life Campaign