The North Central Florida Post-Polio Support Group was established by Carolyn & Jerry Raville, both polio survivors, so they could learn as much as possible about polio and post-polio syndrome and share that information with others seeking help. Carolyn had previously formed a support group in Miami when, as her mentor, Gini Laura, advised her to rely on professionals as resource persons and polio survivors as leaders. Our information is designed to help educate health care professionals and polio survivors who do not already understand polio and PPS. Our articles are designed to help survivors improve their ways of life, show them how to deal with a mate, relative or friend with PPS, and more. No fees or dues are required of our members, though donations make our work and our website possible and are certainly appreciated. Our support comes from contributions from our members, families, friends and the medical community. Our "staff" is strictly volunteer, and all funds are carefully accounted for, so every penny of each donations is wisely used.
We are pleased that we have a knowledgeable network of stable and very talented physicians, therapists and suppliers in our area who are eager to work with us; we have a very fluid exchange of ideas with them and with other physicians, therapists and researchers from all over the North American continent as well as post-polio support groups around the world. In addition, we have an excellent relationship with the University of Florida in Gainesville and are often involved in research studies and polio/postpolio labs and help in the education of the University's Senior Physical Therapy students each fall.
About Our Programs
The programs (meetings) of the North Central Florida Post-Polio Support Group take place ten times a year in Suite 240 of the West Marion Medical Plaza on the grounds of West Marion Community Hospital (State Road 200, Ocala) on the second Sunday of the month at 2:00 PM, unless otherwise stated. Anyone and everyone, polio survivor or not, is welcome to attend any of our programs. In addition our support group president presents a special program, "What Is Post-Polio Syndrome?" twice a year (on a Saturday) targeting those individuals who want and need to learn more about PPS, how it happens, and how to live more comfortably with it. We also present workshops, seminars and resource fairs, plus we have a "summer vacation" during the hottest part of the Florida summer (July and August).
The length of the programs are usually about two hours with a speaker who is expert in some area of the medical, health care, health service, equipment supply or legal community. Questions from the floor are considered an important part of the program and are encouraged. We keep the programs as informal as our dress (being comfortable is important, so dress is casual, much the same as you might wear shopping). We try to be informative, and we are serious about our goals, but we also like to have a few good laughs. In fact, we consider the ability to laugh as important as any prescription a physician can write.
While we strive to improve our physical and mental well-being and promote understanding to those around us, our ultimate goal is that no other child or adult should ever have to experience the ravages of polio and, ultimately, post-polio syndrome. A big step in that direction was made when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked physicians in the United States (as of January 1, 2000) to cease using the live oral vaccine (OPV) in favor of the safer Salk (dead) vaccine (IPV) unless special individual circumstances warrant it. Information on the current vaccine recommendations are located on this site in the PDF format.
Founded in 1990, the mission of the North Central Florida Post-Polio Support Group is to inform and educate polio survivors, families, friends, physicians, therapists and suppliers about polio, the after effects of polio and post-polio syndrome (PPS). We are a not-for-profit support group reaching out to well over a thousand survivors of polio within a 100-mile radius of Ocala, Florida, and to many more survivors throughout the world.
This began from a long-held dream of Andrea Behrman, Ph.D, associate professor in the College of Public Health and Health Professions' department of physical therapy. Our volunteer work with Dr. Behrman and the University of Florida is unique in that ours is the first support group to be involved in such a lab and have done it longer than any other group anywhere. Each year we find ourselves even more excited and very proud of adding still another graduating class to the over 900 University of Florida therapists with whom we have had the honor to be involved.