Years before Bruce Springsteen was even born, another beloved "Boss" was changing the lives of Americans. His real name was Franklin Roosevelt and his private battle with polio led to a public creation: the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
The March of Dimes, its more-familiar name, was established in 1938; it funded research for vaccines to treat polio. And such a vaccine was discovered by doctors Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin in 1955, ending the epidemic and making the physicians heroes to the millions who feared the deadly illness.
Once the vaccine had done its job, the Foundation worked on an equally important mission: to prevent birth defects and to lower the rates of infant mortality.
Rochester’s Community Director for the March of Dimes Foundation is Michael Burke, Jr. A volunteer firefighter/EMT, he joined the foundation four years ago. His background in relationship development/ management and public safety has helped immensely, he notes, “in my work with families, corporate sponsors, and supporters.”
Asked about the clients they serve, Burke shares that “the March of Dimes primarily works with women of child-bearing age and their babies.
“We help women go to the full-term in their pregnancies,” he explains. Additionally, he says, “We support research into the problems that threaten the health of babies.”
The Folic Acid Campaign is one example of such research. It has led to impressive reductions in the number of neural tube defects and other birth defects related to the brain and spine.
Like so many non-profits, the March of Dimes Foundation is dependent in large measure on support from the public. Burke describes one fundraising effort:
“Our Signature Chefs Auction is coming up on November 5 at the Doubletree Hotel. This event brings chefs from some of the Rochester area’s finest restaurants and country clubs together,” he shares with considerable pride.
“It’s an evening that allows guests to sample offerings of haute cuisine, along with wine from some of the region’s most popular wineries.”
Additionally, Burke points out, the evening also boasts some fantastic live and silent auction items. If people can’t attend, they can donate items/gift certificates for the live and/or silent auctions or make a 100 percent tax-deductible Fund the Mission donation. Readers who would like to learn more about supporting the Signature Chefs Auction can contact Michael Burke at 585-286-5864 or email@example.com.
Just as Rochester is known for its charitable efforts, Salk left a legacy that is truly legendary: He declined any profits that might have accrued from his discovery.
Asked who owned the patent for the polio vaccine, he responded, "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
Fortunately for mothers everywhere, the sun’s rays shine ever more brightly via the dimes set for marching for healthy babies.