Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013
From Special Reports
Jan. 30 was once an occasion celebrated by thousands of communities across the nation.
Birthday Ball fundraisers honored President Franklin D. Roosevelt and benefited the March of Dimes in an effort to find a cure for polio.
Roosevelt’s Little White House State Historic Site offers a birthday card for guests to sign today. According to park officials that card will be issued to the Presidential Library in Hyde Park, NY.
According to Brian Roslund, president of the non-profit Friends of Roosevelt’s Little White House, “President Roosevelt arrived in Warm Springs, GA, in October of 1924, upon the advice of philanthropist George Foster Peabody and Newspaper Editor Thomas W. Loyless. Roosevelt was hoping to find a cure for the infantile paralysis (polio) that struck him three years earlier, by swimming in the naturally warm mineral waters that flowed into the community.”
It brought him no miracle cure. However, Roosevelt was able to move his leg for the first time in three years and stand in 4 feet of water.
“There is no doubt the Warm Springs gave Roosevelt the inner strength to re-enter politics, running for the governorship of New York and later the presidency,” Roslund said.
Roosevelt went on to spend two-thirds of his personal wealth purchasing a run-down Victorian era resort and establishing the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. The fundraising arm for that foundation was the March of Dimes, also founded by Roosevelt.
Millions of dollars were raised from themed parties on the president’s birthday in rural towns and large cities. One-half of the amount raised went to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. The remainder was kept for polio treatment in the local regions.
Today, Warm Springs is a quiet community. The excitement of seeing the president and his entourage, birthday balls and patients arriving by train has long passed. Polio was cured and the small white cottage Roosevelt constructed on the Northern slope of Pine Mountain remains as a historic site operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
“The president left behind an amazing legacy. He spirited a movement to encourage others to give a dime for his cause, making it their own cause.” Roslund said.
According to Roslund, “The 131st anniversary of FDR’s birth is cause for celebration. He lifted is out of the depths of the Great Depression and into an era of economic prosperity. Guided us through World War II, waged war against any parent’s most dreaded disease and provided relief to millions.”
Roosevelt’s interaction with his neighbors in Warm Springs laid the groundwork for his New Deal that developed the infrastructure of nearly every town in the nation.
Roslund’s said, “Perhaps the greatest memorial to Warm Springs and FDR is something that nearly all of us carry with us on any given day. That memorial is in the form of the dime, which features a profile of FDR.”
Roosevelt’s Little White House is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information call 706-655-5870.