Never say Never!

In October I ran a marathon. 26.2 miles. For most people running such a distance is unfathomable. For me, it was something I said I’d NEVER do. Never is a powerful word that we use to put self-imposed limitations on ourselves. My initial reticence was simply beause the idea of running for hours was not appealing to me. Also, as a child I watched my father run a marathon and although he completed it, he ended up in a medical emergency. And finally, when I made my declaration to never run 26.2 miles I was medically classified as obese carrying over 50 pounds of extra weight!

However, a few years ago I began to focus on my health and wellness. The extra pounds came off and after a year and a half of running half-marathons, I decided to challenge myself. I was a new person both mentally and physically and over time, “never” slowly transformed to “maybe” and finally to an affirmation that I was determined to challenge myself, go the distance and become one of the exceptional athletes (it is hard to think of myself this way but when less than .5% of the US population runs this distance it truly is exceptional) who complete a marathon. 

photo credit: UNICEF

I look to many professional athletes for inspiration and Dennis Obge is one of them. Dennis is both a gold and silver Paralympian. He is also a global advocate for vaccines who was born in Nigeria and is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. At the age of 3, Dennis contracted polio when he was at a hospital being treated for malaria. As a child, he watched children his age run, frolic and play as he sat at the sidelines in his wheelchair because polio had paralyzed him. I can only imagine his young mind, both envious and resigned to think that NEVER walking was his physical reality, not self-imposed but directly linked to his family’s inability to access the polio vaccine to prevent the disease.

Despite the wheelchair, his father encouraged him to work hard and practice to overcome paralysis. And with an Herculean effort, Dennis regained mobility in his right leg and became the the world-class athlete that he is today.

But that is only part of the story. Dennis has also become advocate for UNICEF and Shot@Life. He believes that no child should have to overcome disability from polio like he did. His story is truly inspirational and the success that he has achieved is proof that the word NEVER should be eradicated from our vocabulary.

And polio should be eradicated from the world.

We are almost there! Polio is more than 99% eliminated worldwide, and there are fewer cases than ever before. In 1988, 125 countries were fighting polio, and more than 350,000 children contracted the disease each year. Today, we have fewer than 200 cases, and polio remains endemic in just three countries: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Dennis has raised his voice and shared his story to encourage the Global community to take action against this disease. And as one of the the bloggers participating in the 28 Days of Impact I am raising my voice and calling on you for help! 

Each day in February we are telling the stories of mothers, children and advocates for global vaccinations to illuminate the necessity for vaccinations and save lives. The ask is simple, send an email to your Congressman asking that support.  We can make a difference! Please do this today!

The impact of vaccines on the lives of children around the world is incredible. Now, you can help sustain the impact by sending an email to your member of congress (it's easy, a template is waiting for you!). Welcome your members to the 113th Congress and ask them to make sure that global health and vaccines are a priority in the new Congress. Take action and make an impact!

This story comes from UNICEF and is part of Shot@Life’s ’28 Days of Impact’ Campaign. A follow up to Blogust to raise awareness for global vaccines and the work being done by Shot@Life and their partners to help give children around the world a shot at a healthy life. Each day in February, you can read another impactful story on global childhood vaccines. Tomorrow, don’t miss my friend Julie's  post.  Go to to learn more. 


Great post, Renee! I want to meet him. How inspiring!
Paula Kiger said…
Renee! You're everywhere!! Great post with an inspirational story! I am loving running Charity Miles for Shot At Life this month!

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