Isn’t Pneumonia Cute?


photo 3Looking at these little guys you might think they are darn cute! Pneumonia is especially cute in his peachy color and wobbly shape… but we all know, in reality, these two little guys are anything but cute.

If you live in the US, it is likely you don’t give polio a second thought because we haven’t seen it in many, many years.  I was just talking with a friend about Shot@Life a couple of weeks ago and they were asking about my last trip to Washington, D.C..  I was telling her I was in DC advocating for the eradication of polio and she said, “I thought that was already gone?”  This is the perception of many people in then US because we have been polio free for so long.  However, it is still alive and moving around in other parts of the world and it is only 99% eliminated from the globe – we still have 1% to go!

While pneumonia is treatable and causes less deaths in the US every year, in other parts of the world it is a death sentence, especially to children under the age of five.  My own son contracted pneumonia at the age of two.  This was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever gone through with my children.  But I was lucky, I had access to a great hospital with lots of doctors and medications to help treat his illness.  I couldn’t imagine what the outcome might have been if I lived in a developing country and didn’t have that sort of access.  My hope is that no mother ever has to experience an undesirable outcome for something that could have been prevented.

So…what can we do to help eradicate polio, prevent pneumonia, and decrease the deaths of children in developing countries?

Well….I chose to support Shot@Life, a United Nations Foundation Campaign, that connects and empowers Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine-preventable diseases.  By joining this movement, I helped save a child’s life every 20 seconds!  2.5 million kids didn’t die this year because of vaccines.  2.5 MILLION! 1 in 5 children do not have access to life-saving vaccines.  Imagine if nearly half the children enrolling in kindergarten this year in the United States were to die of diseases that can be prevented by a vaccine.  That’s how many children die each year in developing countries because they don’t get the immunizations that they need.

So, back to how YOU can help save lives from the comfort of your own home (or computer)…

Through involvement in Shot@Life, you can give a child a lifetime of immunity from deadly diseases and a shot at a healthy childhood by voicing your support for vaccines, to help ensure that US government investments in vaccines continue to save lives.

So I encourage you to take, at the very least, one simple action from the list above to start helping to give kids a shot@enjoying the spring sunshine, flying kites, catching butterflies and ultimately, a Shot@Life.





The ASK is in the thAnKS


This week some of the Chicago Shot@Life champs joined me to visit our Senators offices to thank them for their overwhelming support, and introduction of SR 270, in support of polio eradication,  in October.  Senator’s Kirk (R-IL) and Durbin (D-IL) have been regular supporters of global vaccines and the mission of Shot@Life over the last two years and have very often co-sponsored resolutions on issues we advocate for every day.


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As advocates, we often head to the Hill, or to district offices, with an “ask” for our meetings.  However, there are times that it is ok to simply stop in to say hello and “thanks for your support”.  At our meeting on Monday our regular contact was incredibly grateful for our personal “thanks”, so our meeting was a success in our eyes.  Just as successful was our meeting in Senator Durbin’s office where we were able to add another contact to our list of office staffers in that office.  This particular staff member had done his homework about Shot@Life and was also pleased to accept our generous “thanks” for the Senator’s support and co-sponsorship of SR 270.

Being grateful for support is sometimes lost in the shuffle post meeting.  And most certainly when it is an action that a Senator or Congressman took that benefits our cause.  That “thanks” might be what gets you the meeting next time you call, when you do have the “ask” you want to make, so don’t forget to make it happen – either in person or in writing – because you never know what door it might open for you later down the road.


The History of World Polio Day



Last night my daughter was up really late working on a history project, which is just the nature of the junior high beast, I suppose.  So here I sit, this morning, sipping my highly caffeinated tea, realizing that one day, hopefully very soon, some junior high student, somewhere, will be doing a history project on the eradication of polio!  While that sounds crazy to some of you, it is so close to being true that it could very well become history before my own kids finish school and head off to college, and more importantly, they could be part of making that history happen!  Hard to imagine?  I say “NO!”  The globe is currently 99% polio free!  That means that there is only 1% left to go!  That, my friends, is historical!  Only one other disease has been eliminated from the globe and we are SO CLOSE to making it happen again.  But we can’t just wait for it to happen.  We have to help write the history of our generation.

If we keep moving ahead like we are, making strides in reaching those most in need.   We CAN rid the world of the debilitating effects of polio.  We CAN save lives.

Polio only exists in three remaining countries:  Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Most recently India is polio free!  And while most of us are safely tucked in our first world environment where we feel that polio will never reach us again, we need to realize that as long as polio is anywhere in the globe, it is a threat to all of us, everywhere.  Rotary and its partners, including Shot@Life, are committed to fighting polio until every child is safe from this devastating disease.  According to Rotary statistics it costs $.60 to protect one child from polio.  Sixty Cents!  The majority of children that contract this disease are under the age of 5.  FIVE!  And the estimated amount that will be saved if polio is eradicated from the globe:  $40-50 billion.  BILLION!

So, back to this history project…the task was to learn about your own family history…what my daughter learned was that her grandpa’s uncle (my great-uncle) had polio as a child.  He has a limp, that until I became involved with Shot@Life, I never questioned.  But as my involvement with Shot@Life sparked conversations with my own family, I learned that his limp was due to the contraction of polio as a kid.  I was able to share that bit of history with her last night, which makes the mission of eradicating polio all that more important to us, personally.

I got involved with Shot@Life a few years ago and from day one I have tried to involve my kids.  They know the statistics, they wear the green shirts, they stand in very public places to hold signs that read “vaccines save lives”.  But more importantly they know that they are helping make history happen and not just reading about it in their books at school.  They ARE the change.  They ARE the voice.  They ARE advocates.  Little ones…but they too care about the world around them and seeing diseases like polio rid from the globe for good.

I can only hope that in the near future my kids can feel great pride about being part of this historical endeavor, and know that they contributed to the efforts to help end polio so that when their own kids are working on their history projects late at night, and their books talk about “back in the day when polio was still around”, they can say that they were part of that history lesson.  THEY helped make it happen!  Granted, their names will be listed in any of the history books, and they won’t get fame or recognition from putting in the effort, but they will know that they were part of a movement that made the world a place where more children can thrive, more children are safe, and all children are free from the devastating effects of polio.  THAT is historical and THAT makes us part of the history that is just waiting to be written.

You can learn more about ending polio at or

Our reflection in the Chicago BEAN downtown Chicago.

Our reflection in the Chicago BEAN downtown Chicago.

Taken from the observation deck at the top of the Willis Tower in Chicago.

Taken from the observation deck at the top of the Willis Tower over Chicago.