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.
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.
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!