Polio survivor speaks to Rotary

Published 4:01 am Wednesday, March 11, 2020

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This article was written by Wendy Williams, past president of the Boglausa Rotary Club.

Rotarians received a special treat at the weekly luncheon held Tuesday, March 3. Polio survivor, Freda Billings, shared her incredible and uplifting story. Her son-in-law, Rotarian Lewis Ritchie was the program chair and the club’s members were delighted that he asked her to speak to the club.

She shared, in detail, how she contracted the disease at the young age of only 3 months old. Billings, now 68 and a lifelong Bogalusan, shared heartwarming stories and photos of herself at a young age when she had to wear a brace on her right foot, stating her right leg is now shorter than her left by 1-1/2 inches. Her inspiring journey is remarkable, and though she has faced unimaginable challenges, she has conquered them with a grin and witty charm.

The Rotary International organization and partners have worked through decades of commitment to eradicate polio by offering more than 2.5 billion immunizations for children worldwide. The initiative has reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent since its first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979, more than 40 years ago. Polio is a highly infectious disease that most commonly affects children under the age of 5 and attacks the nervous system. Thanks, Mrs. Freda for sharing your powerful story with us.

In other business, we had a ray of sunshine in the building today. The Bogalusa Rotary Club members raised money in partnership with the Bogalusa Country Club to refresh the local mainstay. The Bogalusa Country Club has served our community since 1940. This paint project was to improve one of Bogalusa’s premier meeting spaces. The project enhanced the original wood beams and window casings, making it even more attractive for future community and social gatherings. Thanks to all those who donated toward the renovation.

Come visit us the Rotary Club for our weekly luncheons held on Tuesday at noon, to learn how you can make a difference in your community and around the world.