Freedom Timeline: March of Dimes

Photo of dimes

Can you imagine waking up one morning and discovering you were unable to move your arm or leg? Many Americans, especially children, experienced the crippling affects of polio during epidemics in the 1920s and 1930s. Polio was an infectious disease that caused muscle weakness and paralysis. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a victim of polio, founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis in 1938 to search for a cure for this often-deadly disease.

What is the Freedom Timeline?
The American Response to Terrorism is being fought in many ways. You may be hearing new words on television and at school such as intelligence, diplomacy and humanitarian relief. These words have served as markers on America's timeline of freedom over many years, and these stories show the courage and strength of Americans who made a contribution in the quest for freedom.

Later that year, a radio announcer and comedian named Eddie Cantor urged his listeners to send their spare dimes to the White House to contribute to a fund for finding a cure for polio. This marked the beginning of the March of Dimes, and the White House began receiving hundreds of dimes from children and adults. During the initial four-month campaign, the White House received more than two million dimes.

The money raised from the March of Dimes was combined with funds raised by "Birthday Balls," parties held on President Roosevelt's birthday. Together, these fundraisers earned $1.8 million for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralys in its first year.

Sixteen years later, a doctor named Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine to eliminate polio through research funded by the March of Dimes. This vaccine freed children and adults from the crippling effects of polio.

Remembering the March of Dimes campaign of 1938, President George W. Bush asked children to donate to America's Fund for Afghan Children in 2001 as a way to counter the malnutrition and starvation experienced by the children of Afghanistan. Learn more about how you can help the children of Afghanistan.

Freedom Timeline: Historical Stories of Freedom
1777-Intelligence An Unlikely Spy
1831-liberty Underground Railroad
Statue of Liberty
March of Dimes
Berlin Airlift: Candy Bomber
Vocabulary List
Timeline Quiz
Teacher's Guide