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The President's Address

Creator: Franklin D. Roosevelt (author)
Date: January 18, 1936
Publication: The Birthday Ball Magazine
Publisher: National Committee for the Birthday Ball for the President to Fight Infantile Paralysis
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

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It is a happy privilege to talk to you once again about Georgia Warm Springs Foundation and its fight against infantile paralysis. It is a privilege because I can tell you of the accomplishments of those who are fighting this battle, and it is a duty because as one of many who are interested and aiding in this battle against a most mysterious and baffling disease I should pay tribute to those who have given of their skill, energy and material resources to the fight.


Listening tonight also are those who have been the victims of this disease -- a disease which attacks with little regard to age and none to race or station; which strikes those in the full stride of useful work as well as children in their play. Small wonder, then, that so many people unite in the attack against it -- that the army is one of volunteers. This army needs no cheering from me, but I do want to thank, in the name of Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, all those who in a few days (January 30) will be making their contribution to the fight by attending the thousands of Birthday celebrations throughout the country.


You should know that this fight against infantile paralysis is constantly assuming a greater and greater national character. Committees of prominent laymen and physicians are playing their part in this broadening of ideals, objectives and usefulness.


Coordination of all this effort is the purpose and desire of Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Its institution at Warm Springs itself is one of many places where may be treated patients who have injury remaining after the acute disease is over. It can take care of only a few such patients, and, therefore, in itself, as regards direct treatment, it makes only a very slight impression on the general problem.


It happens that in Georgia Warm Springs nature has provided an unlimited supply of warm water which assists, simply by virtue of being warm and pure, in the underwater physical treatment of this disease, and that training can be given to doctors and physical therapists there.


Under the auspices of the Foundation and its committee fighting infantile paralysis are groups coordinating the work, the aim of which is to provide more opportunities for the employment and rehabilitation of those who have had infantile paralysis -- those who, with only a physical handicap, possess all their mental keenness and the ability and desire to hold their own with their fellow men -- those with courage to demand their place in the world's work without asking for special privilege, but only for intelligent recognition of their capabilities.


Another important group, with advice from most capable medical research experts, is carefully contributing to that part of the battle which involves study of the cause and prevention of infantile paralysis and of the treatment of its acute stages.


You know that thirty percent of the proceeds of last year's Birthday celebrations went into a fund which has supported research. Warm Springs Foundation did not set up its own research laboratory and research staff. Why should it? Scientists of acknowledged reputation and ability were already working on the problems relating to infantile paralysis. In many cases they were hampered by lack of personnel and equipment. With the advice of those who were well acquainted with the needs and with the value of certain researches in infantile paralysis, aid was given through the money which a generous public has contributed.


It gives me great satisfaction to tell you that allotments from the research funds derived from the Birthday celebrations have been made to these institutions: Stanford University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Long Island College, Yale University, University of Southern California, University of Chicago, City Hospital at Cleveland and New York University. The Medical Advisory Committee has assurances that the work is going forward satisfactorily under these various grants.


The physicians of this country have cooperated, as they always do when health is threatened and disease must be combated. Great medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, have allied themselves and their resources with the Foundation In its efforts to coordinate this work. The orthopedic surgeons, that group of physicians who have studied to give all possible assistance to restore to mobility those who are left injured when the acute phase of infantile paralysis is over, have both collectively and individually entered the battle side by side with Warm Springs Foundation. Seventy-five orthopedic surgeons in various parts of the nation are members of the Orthopedic Advisory Committee of the Foundation, and a smaller group, an Executive Council, gives freely of its time and advice to the Board of Trustees.


Last year not one penny of the money given went into the work of the institution in Georgia. Seventy per cent of it remained in the communities which raised it to carry out the local fight against infantile paralysis. Thirty percent was used in the fund to support research. This year seventy percent again remains to encourage, stimulate and aid local work, and thirty percent will be used to continue the support of the Foundation in the furtherance of its nation-wide fight against infantile paralysis.

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