Camp Courage

Camp Courage – Here I come.

you're invited

How special do you feel when you get invited to a birthday party, wedding, dinner guest, or a reunion?

We all love to be invited.  I am looking forward to a 60th reunion on Sunday, October 11, 2015. It will be at a memorable place from my long ago past. It will be the 60th Anniversary of Camp Courage, Maple Lake, Minnesota. From 1955 to the present Camp Courage has been changing the lives of children and adults who have had opportunities available to them only by attending a camp stay at Camp Courage. Lives have been changes in dramatic ways. Mine was one of them.

My first time attending Camp Courage was probably in about 1958. I am not sure exactly and my parents are no longer here to ask. The age of 10 seems accurate. I do remember how excited I was and nervous at the same time. Being gone from home for two weeks is a long time for a 10 year old. I absolutely do not remember being home sick.  From that first summer, and for many following, I would look forward to renewing old friendships and enjoying myself doing all the things that everyone else was doing. My camping stay would be woven into my summer schedule around a surgery to help me walk better. I have revisited Camp Courage several times. Most recently when I was working on my memoir. It has changed with new cabins and updated facilities but what they do is exactly the same as when I was there.

On October 1, 1948 I was diagnosed with poliomyelitis at the young age of seven months old. There was no vaccine to protect me or thousands of other children and adults. The vaccine was not available until 1953. By then my siblings would be protected and thousands of other children and adults.

As we approach Friday, October 23, 2015, World Polio Day it is important to know that there are two countries that still have cases of Polio. When I wrote my book, All the Steps I Have Taken, there were four countries with cases of polio. India was declared polio free in 2012 with no new cases of polio. They celebrated in 2013. Now Nigeria has had no cases in 2015 and they will be able to celebrate Polio Free in 2016. In 2014 there were fewer than 360 cases of Polio in the world. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries that Rotary International and Bill and Melinda Gates are still work to End Polio Now. Rotary has been working since 1985 in the Polio plus Campaign and I will be so happy to see that Polio will be eradicated in my life time.

The picture second from the left shows two small boys will braces and crutches. I learned to walk with crutches and braces just like those at the age of two. I have my crutches and show them when I speak to local schools and church.

Pictures of campers

Pictures of campers

So reunion here I come. In Minnesota fall leaves are changing to golden yellow, fire red, and tangerine orange. The prettiest time of the year to take a drive. I will enjoy watching the harvest along the way and I will definitely enjoy seeing people that I may have spent time years ago.

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Goals and their importance

Goals and their importance

 

Happy New Year to you all.  It is New Year’s Eve day and I find it hard to believe that yet another year has so quickly gone by.  It absolutely is true, the older we get the faster time goes. As a child birthdays never came fast enough. Christmas always seems so far away. And now all we want to do is slow our time down.  We want to spend more time doing all the things we love to do.

It is also a time when we reflect on our last year.  Did we get to visit all the people we wanted? Did we do all the good we could for as many as we could?  When time slips away so quickly you should all take a very close look at how your life went for the year.  Was it all you really wanted it to be? Did you travel where you wanted to? Did you lose the weight you thought you should? The list could go on forever.

I always set goals.  Each day has the same number of hours in it and I will try to make every one of them count.  As I am taking more time each day to do things I really want to make sure that what I am doing is exactly what I intent to do for that day. A very important “Goal” is set in place at this time.  By 2018, I pray that Rotary will achieve its goal of eradicating Polio from the face of the earth.  I am a 1948 polio survivor and for the past 2 and a half years I have been sharing my story with churches, local Rotary Clubs thanking them for all they are doing and visiting schools to share my story about not treating someone who is different – differently.

polio, crutches, all the steps,

I am not alone is this effort.  Since 1985, Rotary has been working with our global polio eradication partners WHO (World Health Organization) Unicef and CDC (Center of Disease Control). All are strengthening their efforts and are placing the greatest demands on Nigeria to finish the job. Rotary Clubs from around the world are all working together.  There have been four free health camps organized in Pakistan this year.  Rotary Club District 3271 of Karachi Sea View have been training mothers to welcome the Polio teams to give the vaccine to their children.

Ann Lee Hussey is a member of the Rotary Club in Sunrise, Maine. She is also a polio survivor and has been through surgeries, braces and therapy to help with her ability to get around.  She contracted polio at 17 months, 3 months after the Jonas Salk vaccine was released to the public.  She has led 6 teams to Nigeria to help vaccinate the children there against polio. I contracted polio long before there was a vaccine to protect me.

On Friday October 24, 2014 I spoke to the children at Pacelli High School in Austin, Minnesota.  KIMT TV was there and broadcast that evening the importance of knowing that the world is not polio free and what each of us can do to help. Also, make sure that your children and grandchildren have completed their vaccinations for the polio virus.

Courage is born at the point where God’s grace and human effort intersect.” From the book “The discernment of the Spirit” by Father Timothy M Gallagher.  Guidepost magazine.

To follow Rotary and the work that they are doing please go to blog.rotary.org/tag/polio-survivor.

To view my book “All the Steps I have taken” go to Inspiring Voices

“I Love A Parade”

“I Love a Parade”

Parades have always been one of my favorite summertime activities.  During the summer you can find a Hay Days, Rushford Days, Buffalos Bill Days, Jesse James Days. Any kind of days anywhere within a 50 miles radius.  There is usually a Parade to go to along with lots of other festivities. Going to a parade is not a shared interest by many in my immediate family so I don’t enjoy as many as are available or as many as I would like to. I will get to as many as I can in the summer season.  Then wait for next year to start all over again. There is nothing better than the Color Guard leading the parade with the American Red, White and Blue so we can honor our Veterans and thank them for all they have given for our country.  Bands bring excitement to the parade and of course you must have clowns and horses.

Lonna and Linda at Albert Lea, Minnesot parade

Lonna and Linda at Albert Lea, Minnesot parade

Enjoying a pushup, with my sister Lonna, was taken at a parade in Albert Lea, Minnesota back in the early ’50.  The beautiful dresses that we are wearing were made by our mother. She made all our dresses and they usally matched. I really don’t know why were so dressed up with the darling hats to finish off the outfit, but we sure were cute sitting on the curb enjoying the pushups watching a parade. I am so grateful to my mother for teaching me the skill of sewing as it is something that I thoroughly enjoy each day. It is something that I can do sitting down. Something that I can do for my family and others and not make myself tired. There are some things that are difficult for me to do because of physical limitations so what I can do, I try to do it the best that I can.

If you look close beneath that adorable dress, you will notice two metal and leather braces attached to my legs.  They were a necessary part of my growing up with Polio to make my mobility a possibility. As a young infant I was stricken with Polio in 1948 at age six and a half months old. Thousands of children and adults were stricken before a vaccine became available in 1953. I wore braces until I was sixteen years old, a sophomore in high school. The next two decades I completed as normal as I could. My goal as a child was to keep up with everyone else and be as normal as possible. A limp and some deformities were visible but life was always great.  I completed an education, married, had three children and continued in a successful career.  Then the need to return to a brace on my left leg became a reality at age 36. My husband and three children were so helpful in helping me make the necessary adjustments. We all have adjustments to make and those adjust have to control our attitude. I try to end each day with a positive thought. No matter how hard today was and how things were, tomorrow is a fresh opportunity to make it better. I see my limitations as a motivational tool. I use those limitations as a strength –not a liability.

Today, Saturday August 3, I will be attending a Minnesota TWINS game at the Target Field. It will be a Polio-Plus Day at Target Field.  Watching a TWINS game is also a favorite summertime activity for me. After a 13 inning game last night and a win I am very excited to attend the game today against the Houston Astros. Many Rotarians will be attending this important event to help bring awareness to the “End Polio Now” campaign. There is still lots of work to be done to eradicate the disease completely and the task will keep moving forward until all countries will be free of Polio. Please make sure that your children have completed the necessary vaccinations. We do not want this dreaded disease to cripple anymore children or adults.