STATE – Gov. Chris Christie has proclaimed the week of Oct. 24-28 as Post-Polio Awareness Week in New Jersey. The opening day of the week has special significance: Oct. 24 is World Polio Day, designated by the United Nations to highlight the need to wipe out polio in remaining parts of the world where the dreaded disease is still rampant.
In the United States, while initial polio has been virtually eliminated through mass immunization, the threat of post-polio syndrome is “alive and well.” The Centers for Disease Control has estimated that as many as 30,000 survivors of the polio epidemics of the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s may be residing in New Jersey, many of whom have no idea what may be causing new medical problems. Up to two-thirds of these men and women may be suffering from mild to severe symptoms, ranging from fatigue and new muscle weakness to chronic pain and loss of mobility.
The Polio Network of New Jersey was founded in 1990 to seek out and inform polio survivors of the threat of these late effects, sometimes known as PPS. Eight support groups throughout New Jersey meet on a regular basis, offering practical tips and moral support to polio survivors and their families.
The Ruprecht Fund, named in memory of a pioneer polio survivor and his wife, Alan and Peggy Ruprecht, of Upper Montclair, was established by the Polio Network of New Jersey. It provides up to $1,000 annually to polio survivors who live in the state and who meet other eligibility criteria.
During the past 10 years, the fund has provided over $22,000 in 55 separate grants, entirely through the generosity of polio survivors, their friends, and supporters of our network, in direct assistance to individuals for products and services that may be difficult to finance for many seniors, particularly those on fixed incomes. The fund provides grants for assistive devices such as braces, crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, orthopedic shoes and lifts, ramps, auto adaptations, handrails, etc., also services such as medical evaluations, and limited transportation costs, such as to a doctor’s office or to a clinic for an evaluation.
The Ruprecht Fund is administered for the Polio Network of New Jersey by Heightened Independence and Progress, a Center for Independent Living for People with Disabilities, through its Hackensack office. Those interested can apply for a grant by calling Maria Valentin, 1-201-996-9100, or e-mailing her at email@example.com.
To learn more, visit www.pnnj.org.
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