Texas Rotarian Wayne Staton Addresses Local Club On His Childhood Experience With Polio

Texas Rotarian Wayne Staton, afflicted by polio, wants to eliminate it. Courtesy photo

Rotary Club of Los Alamos

Each year the Rotary Club of Los Alamos runs a public awareness campaign to promote the eradication of polio. We started late last year selling Purple Glow bracelets at the Kiwanis fireworks display. And just recently, we held a Purple Pinkie Polio Awareness campaign in the elementary schools and the online academy. Our final action this Rotary year was to welcome as our speaker, Texas Rotarian Wayne Staton, on his childhood experience with polio.

He was born in the Lynchburg, Virginia area in 1951 and lived there most of his life. He contracted polio at the age of 8 months being diagnosed with a cold before becoming paralyzed a couple of days later. After numerous hospital stays and surgeries, it has left him with a weak right hip and leg.

But Wayne did not let life get him down and always looked for alternate ways to participate. So he could not be the athlete but he could be the team score keeper. He says he lettered more than the elite athletes because he could attend more than one sport in any season! He continued to excel. In high school he was valedictorian of his class. He graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Physics with honors. After college he started his career in computers and has worked in that field ever since.  Since 1999 he has worked at BMC Software where he is a Lead Technical Support Analyst.  In Virginia, he was a Briefing Leader for the Hunger Project and President of the Boonsboro Ruritan Club in Lynchburg, Virginia.  

Wayne is married to Gwen Corolla (past president of the Rotary Club of Memorial-Spring Branch). Together they have six grown children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. Wayne and Gwen are partners in making the world a better place.

There were only two cases of polio in the world last year, one in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan. That is quite a feat for a disease that frightened the world in the early part of the 20th century. At its peak, in 1952, the number of U.S. polio cases peaked at 58,000 resulting in 3,100 deaths. Rotary literature discloses that the number of worldwide polio cases has been reduced by 99.9 percent and more than 2.5 billion children have been inoculated with the vaccine first developed in 1955 by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh.

Still, for Wayne Staton, those are two cases too many. 

Because Polio Eradication is the flagship service project for Rotary, it is not surprising that Wayne became a Rotarian in 2007. In Texas, he is active with Rotary International and Landmark. He is a past president of the Rotary Club of Sharpstown, Texas, a PolioPlus Society member, and is the past District 5890 PolioPlus Chair. In 2014 he was District 5890 Rotarian of the year and has twice been named his club’s Rotarian of the Year. In 2016 he received the Regional Service Award for a Polio-Free World from Rotary International.

“Thank you for your support in ending polio,” Staton told members of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos at their weekly meeting April 4. Like Rotary Clubs throughout the United States, the Los Alamos club has committed to eliminating polio throughout the world.

“That’s why I joined Rotary,” he explained, “and I am here to thank you for your financial commitment and to remind you that, because of your efforts, Rotary’s efforts, we have saved 20 million kids around the world from the ravages of polio.”

“Read the Rotary Vision Statement,” Staton said as he projected it on the screen. “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”

A remarkable story of a man who joined Rotary to help himself and now helps the world to eradicate polio.