Posted by Vernon Turner on Oct 29, 2018


Reported by WIBW TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)

-- Mary Ann Arnett was diagnosed with polio in 1946. "I lived in the Ozarks of Missouri," she said. "And at the time people didn't know what to do for the people that had polio." On Wednesday, Arnett celebrated her 81st birthday, which happens to correspond with World Polio Day. To mark the day, she's teamed up with the Kansas Rotary clubs to remind people that the disease is still a worry in many parts of the world.

"That's why this little group of polio survivors, our purpose is to make people aware that it isn't 100 percent eradicated yet," Arnett said.

Since it was established a decade ago, the Rotary's polio initiative has helped vaccinate 2.5 billion children in 211 countries.

"It's important for us to continue our immunizations with children and to keep going until we get to zero cases," Kansas Rotary District Governor Blanch Parks said.

Even though they've made significant strides, Arnett says a new disease making headlines is taking her back 72 years.

"I am very troubled by some of the news on TV about the polio-like illness striking people because these diseases become dormant and they do come back," she said.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control reported 155 patients had been diagnosed with a polio-like disease, Acute Flaccid Myelitis, recently.

For fellow survivor, Jenelle Carkhuff, that makes eradication even more important.

"It's crippling," she said. "It just breaks your heart to see children that cannot run and play. We have to stop it, we just have to stop it."

Below is the District Event video.