May 24, 2018. Our program featured Dennis Boyne who is the Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Story Slam. The group meets monthly for a friendly competition of story telling. Each participant is given a theme and five minutes to present an account of a true story. The hidden agenda is that Dennis believes our country has become too polarized. He believes that if we get together and share stories we will find that we have far more in common than we have differences. All ages are welcome and it is interesting to see the contrast between stories told by seniors and teenagers.
One recent event included students from Nazareth High, Moravian Academy, and the Charter School for the Arts. Upcoming events include an Hispanic version and one for Veterans. Dennis demonstrated the concept with a story about his early years growing up in Naperville. This small Illinois town featured 4,000 residents, a terrific public pool, and Thursday-night band concerts. Tragedy was introduced in 1952 as the polio epidemic struck the town. Panic ensued. The pool was closed. Everybody was told to wash their hands repeatedly. All denominations came together at the Catholic Church to pray for the hospitalized children. Nobody knew how the disease was transmitted.
In 1953, his grandmother signed a permission slip to allow him to be entered into the polio vaccination experiment. The Salk vaccine was unproven. Some children received the vaccine and others a placebo. Dennis later found that he had received the actual vaccine. This was welcome news because it meant he did not have to endure yet another shot. Even a disastrous bad batch of the vaccine did not keep the experiment from being considered a great success. Children across the country were soon being vaccinated. The immense undertaking was staffed by hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses, and volunteers. Costs were minimized because Dr. Salk never patented the vaccine. Instead, he presented it as a gift to the world. Other costs were funded by the March of Dimes. 65 years later, Rotary is still working on eradicating this horrible disease.