Preventing Polio: A Shot Away From an Equal Shot


April 26, 2013

This post is part of the Global Mom Relay. Every time you share this blog, $5 will go to women and girls around the world. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.

Polio_blog_post_imageSince the age of three when I contracted polio, every day of my life has had challenges — challenges that are completely preventable with a polio vaccination. I was paralyzed from the waist down, but with determination and physical therapy that I had to fight to receive, I regained full mobility in my right leg but remain paralyzed in my left leg. You can have laser therapy at to resolve acute and chronic problems. Even as an adult I still live with the consequences of polio.

Occasionally my four-year old daughter sees me fall down due to losing my balance. Winters in Kentucky numb a paralyzed leg that carries no body fat. I must always be aware of the surface I walk on to make sure I don’t fall and injure myself.

However, when I think of my struggles of living with the consequences of polio I don’t always think of myself. My illness impacted so many other people connected to me. My friends, family, siblings, neighbors are all victims. But there is one person that stands out in my mind the most — my mother.

Polio_blog_post_image2My mom, (pictured) Agnes Ogbe, may have suffered more than me. When she describes learning that I was paralyzed, tears still come to her eyes. Now that I am a father, I understand that the pain of watching your child suffering daily would be unfathomable. Many times I saw that pain in my mom’s eyes, but I also know that she mostly put on a strong face for me. My earliest childhood memory was her cheerfully singing to me as she bathed me with water from a bucket. On warm summer days she gently encouraged me to wear light pants instead of shorts to protect me from the possible ridicule of peers. She searched for clean water for our family daily, always fearful of the possibility the water might be contaminated. Throughout my childhood I remember my mom pulling me on her lap to have long conversations with me.

[ This is an extract of an essay by USA Paralympian Dennis Ogbe. To read the rest of Dennis’ essay on the Huffington Post, go here. ]

Take Action Challenge

In honor of World Immunization Week and the Shot@Life campaign’s first birthday, go to to get involved and support the end of polio! As Dennis reminds us, “No mother should suffer like my mother did by watching her child suffer, when there is a proven vaccine available to prevent it. Polio must be eradicated now for the children, but also so no more mothers will cry. A mother’s love is just as intense in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan where polio still exists, as it is in your own life.”

Dennis Ogbe with parents.
Each time you share this Global Mom Relay piece on Facebook, Twitter, or Email, or donate $5 or more through clicking on the above graphic, a $5 donation (up to $500,000) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Shot@Life. $5 protects a child from polio and measles for his/her lifetime. Funds go to WHO, UNICEF and the GAVI Alliance who distribute them to the programs and countries with the greatest need at the time. Join us by sharing it forward and unlock the potential for women and children around the globe. For more information, visit The United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter, The Huffington Post, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created the Global Mom Relay, a first-of-its-kind virtual relay with a goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.

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