Rotary clubs to host polio awareness dinner

What a great idea to start something like this in your community!

He was the first of 27 in Midland to catch polio in the year 1948. Donald DeVore said he had spent the summer with his father in Lorenzo and a lot of time in swimming pools while there.

That’s where he believes he contracted the disease.

DeVore had a high fever, and after three days began to start losing strength in his legs. His father put him in their family car and drove him to Abilene where he was diagnosed and spent the next 29 weeks in the hospital. He became totally paralyzed while he was at the hospital. Midlanders got together then and hired a private plane to take him to South Texas and Warm Springs Hospital, the top polio treatment center in the world at the time.

“Two years later, I walked out with a slight limp and was totally recovered,” DeVore said.

Next Thursday, the four Rotary clubs in Midland will host a “We are THIS Close” to ending polio dinner at Green Tree Country Club. Officials said they are hoping to raise awareness of the global crisis.

Dinner tickets are $50 each and are being sold through MARC. The event will start with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.

During the first half of the 20th century, the disease crippled millions of children and adults, those like DeVore. But by 1988, there were 125 countries around the world still transmitting polio; last year, there were only four: Nigeria, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.

The Rotary club has spearheaded a campaign with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to eradicate the disease. Officials said that once it’s eliminated, it will join smallpox as the only two diseases no longer in existence.

There are 1.3 million polio survivors still alive today and approximately 70 percent of them have been diagnosed with post polio syndrome. While it’s been more than 60 years since he contracted and survived the disease, DeVore said he still feels the effects it has on his body and, in 1989, became one of that 70 percentile when he was diagnosed with PPS.

“I am one of about one million left that had a life. Just because I can’t walk anymore, I was blessed 60 years longer than they said I would be,” he said. “Once we survived polio, we felt like we could do anything and survive anything.

Audrie Palmer can be reached at

For more information on the dinner and to purchase tickets, contact Jean Jones at MARC at 498-8590.

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