The International Post Polio Support Organization (IPPSO) was founded in 2001 to offer support worldwide to those who were experiencing the symptoms of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), also referred to as Post Polio Sequelae or the Late Effects of Polio.
Harald Hasle of Norway and Shari Fiksdal of the United States co-founded IPPSO in 2001 with a lot of love and no money.
Their strategic plan was to utilize the Internet to provide a web site and forums (i.e. bulletin board and a chat room) so that all could communicate easily to share experiences, support each other, and provide resource information.
The two co-founders envisioned IPPSO becoming one of the leading informational and supportive bases for PPS in the world.
Any chronic illness or disability organization, that wants to gain public and government attention, in order to help those in need, must raise funds to do so. When Harald and Shari started, they knew the first part of their goal, (goals are found on our web site under "Mission Statement") would be to get a website set up, which was Harald's expertise. Then, let people know that IPPSO was here to listen, assist, advocate, locate doctors, and educate those with PPS; as well as their families, friends, caregivers, doctors, and other medical professionals.
It is now eight years later and our membership grows daily, as do our accomplishments, the dedication of our volunteers and great Board of Directors. One of our new goals is to affiliate with as many PPS groups as we can to unite and combat the challenges faced by those with polio and PPS.
We have an Affiliate Association with Asociacion Post Polio Litaff A.C_Mexico through Liliana Marasco Garrido who is President and Founder. We are proud to be a part of the work that Liliana has done in her country. It is a great pleasure to work together for the cause of PPS. This past year Lily not only got Mexico to stop using the OPV vaccine, but also helped in establishing the first PPS clinic in Mexico. We are so proud of her! We look forward to many other Affiliates.
IPPSO accomplished another goal by co-hosting an International Post Polio Conference with the Post Polio Assn. of South Florida in Miami, Florida, USA, on April 9-11, 2007. Barbara Gratzke, Vice President of IPPSO, won a local monetary award in 2005 for her work with people with disabilities and had to donate it to the local charity of her choice. This enabled her local PPS group to donate monies to IPPSO to use for the "up-front" costs of the conference. We had over 160 people in attendance and 29 speakers who covered all kinds of pertinent topics of interest. We also had many fun events planned and a lot of interaction between speakers and attendees. We had people from nine countries and many US states.
Our conference leadership workshop sessions went very well. We identified priority issues and formulated ideas to create more Post Polio Awareness and gain more resources for polio survivors. All were excited about forming a global PPS/Polio leadership group. We voted to call it "Polio World". The aim was for Polio and PPS leaders and advocates, to come together to share ideas and initiatives so that all could speak with "ONE LOUD VOICE". To this end, an e-mail list was set up to enable members to talk with one another easily, even though they live on different continents. We all felt that our strength would come from the sheer number of those with polio and polio survivors and advocates working together. IPPSO is very pleased with this strategic plan (that came from the 2007 Conference) and will continue to "partner" with others, forming alliances around the world.
We have grown far beyond our initial goals and are working on several more! We will always continue with our first major goal of helping PPSers individually, but are happy to be on the way to reaching further goals to better the quality of life for all with polio and its survivors everywhere!
We are proud of our very competent governing Board and the love and caring our members have for each other.
We want to mention the members of our Board of Directors who were with us from the inception of IPPSO and have had to leave for various personal or health reasons. We would not be where we are today without them!
Harald Hasle, was our 1st President and co-founder of IPPSO, and without his computer and Internet expertise, as well as great leadership skills we would not have survived. We are sad to say Harald had to step down due to his health. We hope his health improves and he will rejoin us one day soon. Dolores Light, R.N. was our Medical Director and worked so diligently to assist members in need. We look forward to Dolores' upcoming book on how to "get better" even with PPS! Thank you, Dolores and Harald for your long hours of hard work for IPPSO!
Our Board and other workers, are all unpaid volunteers who work hard to keep this organization vibrant and develop it further, as well as keep up with all the day-to-day administrative duties, website maintenance, updates, and accounting tasks. We are very proud of, and sincerely thank, each volunteer who has taken on the various responsibilities of IPPSO. We try not to overload any of them with work. The golden rule for all our "worker bees" is, "If executing a task makes you hurt or feels overly uncomfortable - stop!"
We can proudly say that our members unanimously agree that "We make a difference!"
Updated: 6-12-08 by Shari Fiksdal, President and Co-Founder