For years, the name Elizabeth Lounsbury has been synonymous with March of Dimes Canada’s Post-Polio Canada® program. She is also one of March of Dimes’ most dedicated volunteers, serving as a Board Member, sitting on numerous committees, supporting countless fundraisers and acting as March of Dimes ambassador for Northern Ontario, where she has lived her entire adult life. She is also a monthly donor.
For over twenty years Elizabeth has been instrumental in supporting Canadian polio survivors as they deal with the late effects of the virus in the form of post-polio syndrome. Little understood by most doctors, in the 1980's medical researchers confirmed that many survivors of polio would develop post-polio syndrome (PPS) later in life, a condition with symptoms that include weakness, fatigue, breathing and swallowing problems and muscle atrophy. In fact, it is estimated that up to 50 to 70 percent of polio survivors may experience the disabling effects of post-polio syndrome 25 to 45 years after their initial recovery from polio. There are approximately 125,000 Canadian polio survivors.
Post-Polio Canada®, a program of March of Dimes Canada, helps provide education and support to polio survivors, their loved ones, caregivers and healthcare professionals across the country. Elizabeth has been the program’s Chair since its inception.
Elizabeth herself is a polio survivor, contracting the virus when she was eight. Years later, now a wife and mother, and running a small business, Elizabeth began experiencing the symptoms of PPS.
"I was running a small business, teaching at night school, raising five children, and the pain, the weakness and fatigue was just unbelievable," says Elizabeth. "It was just like hitting a wall, and my doctor told me there was nothing wrong with me, that it couldn’t have anything to do with my polio" she continues.
Feeling desperate, she heard that March of Dimes was holding an information session about post-polio syndrome.
"In a way, March of Dimes saved my life, I was so desperate wanting to know what was wrong with me, and I was literally planning my death," she says. "After I learned about PPS, I was able to take this information to my doctor and he apologized and I was able to get properly assessed at a post-polio clinic," she continues.
Elizabeth, through her involvement with March of Dimes, is driven to educate fellow polio survivors, particularly new immigrants who may not know about PPS to maintain their energy and how to best live with the weakness and fatigue.
Elizabeth considers one of her most important roles at March of Dimes that of monthly donor. "The Dime Plan", or monthly giving, is an effective way to provide stable and ongoing support for the work of March of Dimes by pre-authorizing a regular monthly deduction from your bank account or credit card.
"I encourage people who support March of Dimes to strongly consider becoming a monthly donor," says Elizabeth.
"It doesn’t have to be a large amount – I don’t give a lot each month – but I know giving every month provides funds that March of Dimes can rely on," she continues.
Elizabeth recommends monthly giving as an alternative for people who find it challenging to make a lump sum donation once or twice a year.
"I am such a supporter of March of Dimes and I know the money is being used wisely and that every little bit adds up," says Elizabeth.
To learn more about becoming a monthly donor, or to increase your gift, please click here, call 1-800-263-3463 ext. 7813 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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