Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994)

Her Childhood

Wilma Rudolph was born into a family of 22 children on June 23,
Polio is a virus that can cause paralysis or deformity .
1940 in Bethlehem , Tennessee . Rudolph's parents, Ed and Blanche Rudolph, were honest, hardworking people, but they were very poor. Ed worked as a luggage carrier at a railroad station, while Mrs. Rudolph did the household chores. Wilma was born too early and weighed about 4.5 pounds. Due to racial segregation, Wilma could not be cared for in the local hospital. Consequently, Blanche cared for Wilma in her own home, nursing her in every illness. One day, Wilma had to be taken to the doctor when her left leg and foot were becoming weak and deformed. A doctor diagnosed her and found that she had polio, a crippling disease,
In the above picture, we can see the polio virus attacking a human cell.

and that she would never walk. This did not stop Mrs. Rudolph from finding a treatment. One day, Blanche found out that Wilma could be treated at a Black medical college in Nashville , Tennessee . Blanche took her there twice a week despite the long, 50 mile journey to Meharry Hospital until she was able to walk with the aid of a metal leg brace. While Wilma was being treated, the doctors taught Mrs. Blanche how to do the physical therapy at home. With the help and support from her family, Wilma Rudolph was able to walk normally again at age 12.