Topeka Polio survivors remember disease, stress awareness, vaccines

Health Check

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Polio is a contagious virus that can cause paralysis or even death, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Polio hasn’t been a problem in the United States since 1979. But there are still some locals today who were impacted by the disease before it was eradicated.

In the summer of 1952, about two years before the vaccines for polio were available, Mike Hall from Topeka got polio when he was just 7 years old.

“I spent about 10 days in the hospital in Hutchinson, where I grew up.
Most people probably don’t know I had polio, because I don’t show any symptoms. One (symptom) that has continued to dog me over the years, is I have trouble swallowing. I am one of the very lucky ones who not only didn’t die, but I’ve lived a pretty normal life,” said Hall.

Topeka resident Barbara Hickert’s mother Wilma Glabin was not as lucky. Wilma contracted polio in 1951.

“She was taken by plane to Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, where she spent six months. She was in pretty serious condition. They did not expect her to live from polio. The polio impacted the muscle and the use of those muscles. Basically there was no muscle use in her legs. She wasn’t able to use her legs,” said Barbara.

Wilma spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair, but Barbara said her mom thrived in the face of adversity, having three more children, held a job, and was active in her church and community.

Both Mike and Barbara stress the importance of polio awareness, vaccines, and the Rotary Club’s continued efforts to remove the disease from the world entirely.

“To me the reason it is important to tell her story so we don’t forget. It’s important that we remember, least we let a wedge crack back in and have things get worse,” said Barbara.

“Of course the vaccine is a big thing, and if I could have stayed healthy for two more years, I could have gotten the vaccine and never gotten the disease. I am really proud of Rotary for stepping up to have this campaign to eradicate polio from the world. It’s a battle that is worth fighting,” Mike said.

Polio has now been eliminated to just three countries in the world today (Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan), in large part due to the efforts of the Rotary Club.

Here’s a list of Polio Awareness Events happening this month:

10/11/2019 – World Polio Day Proclamation signing by Governor Laura Kelly at 9:00 am

10/24/2019 – World Polio Day recognition at the Capper Foundation hosted by the Rotary Club of Topeka

10/24/2019 – Dinner Event: Plates for Polio Overbrook Club at 6:00pm – location TBD

10/26/2019 – 5K Pumpkin Run hosted by Topeka South Rotary at Shawnee Lake. Start time is 8:30 am – Click here to register

Clubs that are having local City Proclamations for World Polio Day Proclamations:

     Leavenworth –  10/08/2019 at 10:00 am

     Leawood – 10/21/2019

     Lenexa – TBD

     Shawnee – TBD

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