Giving Back: Retired Dentist Joins the Fight to End Polio

Dr. Edgar Gifford, 97, a retired dentist from La Grange, IL has made a generous donation to help permanently end polio.

The donation was made to PolioPlus, a Rotary International foundation started in 1985 with the goal of eradicating polio worldwide. Gifford, together with his wife, Caroline, 91, was inducted into the exclusive Arch Klumph Society of Rotary International—a group which recognizes donations of $250,000 or more. And, while Gifford hasn’t stated a specific amount, his donation is considered to be significantly higher than that.

Gifford’s initial reaction to the goal to completely eradicate polio was a bit skeptical, but that goal seems much more reachable now. According to data on the disease it only still exists in Afghanistan and Pakistan—and even then only in 37 known cases. Africa has now reportedly been free from the disease for a full year.

As for why he decided to make the donation Giffords said, “I thought why not it do now while we’re [he and his wife] still alive. That might influence others to give money.”

Gifford has apparently always had a generous spirit. He founded the La Grange chapter of the Rotary Club (part of the larger charitable workhorse mentioned above—Rotary International) in 1958. The first meetings they had took place in his dental office. And through his Rotary connections he was able to spend a month overseas in 1980, offering dental care to Vietnamese refugees.

So it is clear Gifford has used his success and connections as a dentist to give back to the world around him.

Read the full article on Gifford here.

Michaels, Jane. (2015, September 9). Retired La Grange dentist donates to end polio, offers lifetime of service. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from