FINDING TRUE NORTH
York City, where 2000 died and another 7000 were attacked (three fourths of them children under 5). Thousands tried to leave—police at highways and railroad stations halted them. Few hospitals would take polio cases. Police had to break into apartments to take dead children from their mothers.” The disease was unpredictable, inexplicable, and indifferent to social station—even Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a well-off young man who would someday become president of the United States, was its victim. Over the next several decades, the American public would become aroused to take on the ﬁght against polio with a fervor tantamount to a war effort. Medical researchers, feverishly trying to ﬁnd the cure, often died themselves in the process of experimenting with the new drugs. Under the leadership of President Roosevelt and Basil O’Connor, millions of dollars were raised for medical research, and millions of dimes were sent from all corners of America to contribute, piece by piece, to America’s other war. And at the heart of all this unprecedented public intervention was a new organization called the National Foundation for the Prevention of Infantile Paralysis, later known as the March of Dimes. That terrifying time, the quietly pleasant White Plains headquarters of today’s March of Dimes, and the new dangers that the organization confronts can all be understood and uniﬁed through the archetypal lens. What’s more, an understanding of its archetypal identity is helping the March of Dimes become an even more effective force against the powers of disease and ignorance.
A New Enemy Today, the March of Dimes confronts a different, but equally devastating, threat than the infantile paralysis that plagued America during the ﬁrst half of the twentieth century—birth defects. The March of Dimes underwrites major new studies of premature birth and groundbreaking research on gene therapy. It sponsors a major public service campaign encouraging all women of childbearing years to take the B vitamin folic acid, which has been shown to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. It lobbies for health insurance for the 11 million children who currently have none. It manages the March of Dimes Resource Center, through which the or-