There is probably no other Canadian phenomenon that exemplified the true spirit of volunteerism more than the Marching Mothers® campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s.
Desperate to find a cure for polio, a highly contagious, disabling and sometimes fatal disease, mothers across Canada joined a North America-wide fundraising drive towards research.
Known as the Marching Mothers®, these dedicated volunteers went door-to-door in their neighbourhoods, collecting donations for the March of Dimes.
From celebrity endorsements, to local media campaigns, to the ringing of fire alarm bells from the centre of town, many in their communities got involved.
Women canvassed their neighbours carrying pickle jars or canvassing kits. Homes welcoming Marching Mothers® turned on their porch lights to signal their support.
Over the years, this simple, community-based process raised millions of dollars for polio research and rehabilitation. It supported the research of Dr. Jonas Salk, whose polio vaccine was released in 1955, putting an end to the epidemics.
But long after the vaccine's discovery, women and men continued the annual marches. The funds initially assisted polio survivors, but today they support a wide range of vital services for adults and children with physical disabilities across Ontario.