Franklin D. Roosevelt had contracted poliomyelitis in 1921. He
went to Warm Springs, in 1924 for therapeutic treatments and in 1926
he and his former law partner established the nonprofit Warm Springs
Foundation for research and treatment of polio.
Polio didn't keep FDR from pursuing an active political career.
Actually, people did not know that the man was crippled. He was never
shown in photographs or movies in a wheelchair or braces. This man,
who could not stand alone, was a giant -- a man who led us out of the
Depression and, as Commander in Chief, to victory in World War II.
He stood for photographs, usually leaning on the arm of an
assistant -- or he and everyone present were shown sitting. Cameramen
looked away when he was lifted from an automobile or plane and placed
on his feet as a mark of respect.
In 1938, the Warm Springs Foundation, desperate for funds, started
to appeal to the general public for funds. Money was raised through
the annual President's Birthday Ball with the president and many
This inspiring man believed that people could solve any problem if
they worked together and he appealed to the entire nation to
participate. It was suggested that everyone send just a dime to the
White House to conquer polio.
At a time when a dime would buy a gallon of gas or a quart of milk
-- if you could find that dime -- tons of dimes came from all over
the country. This was the start of "The March of Dimes" and polio was
conquered with all of us working together. This is the character of
the American people: even when they have little, they reach into
their pockets to help people who have even less.
Victims of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and fires, at home and
abroad, look to us for help and we never let them down. Money,
supplies and labor come not only from our government, but from
Most recently, on a Sunday morning in December, a giant tsunami
wiped out close to 200,000 people in Sumatra, Thailand, Sri Lanka and