The Echoes of the Mind (153-1-1) March of Dimes

 March of Dimes

The March of Dimes was founded in 1938 to combat polio. At the time, the cause of the debilitating disease was a mystery.

(President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who suffered from polio, founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which American comedian Eddie Cantor called the March of Dimes for its fundraising activity, which solicited dimes. The name stuck. Shortly after his death, FDR’s visage was put on the dime to honor him.)

To raise money to fund finding a cure, the organization placed posters of children on crutches near cash registers in nearly every retail store in the US. They raised money beyond their wildest dreams.

After American virologist Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio in 1955, the threat of polio was wiped out almost overnight. But did the March of Dimes stop marching? No way. They had jobs to protect.

So the organization targeted a new, vaguer, enemy: birth defects. But then, in 2001, researchers had managed to map the human genome: a breakthrough that held the possibility of eliminating birth defects and ending the March of Dimes raison d’être. Hence a new slogan (and mission to go with it): “stronger, healthier babies.” There will be no end to that campaign.

(As of 2016, sacrificing clarity for sheer vigor, the March of Dimes was providing “a fighting chance for every baby,” despite babies’ utter inability to fight chance (or fate, for that matter).)