Franklin D. Roosevelt
When Franklin Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921, at age thirty-nine, it inspired his interest in medical philanthropy. When he heard about the therapeutic value of the thermal mineral baths at Warm Springs, Georgia, Roosevelt went there and ended up buying the site and creating a foundation in 1927. He persuaded his friend and New York City law partner Basil O’Connor to run it.
After Roosevelt became president in 1933, O’Connor co-coordinated Birthday Balls that took place on Roosevelt’s birthday each January and raised money for the care of polio patients. These were so successful that in 1938 they were merged into a nationwide organization, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, later renamed the March of Dimes.