Taking a look back

Founded in 1872, the city of Marshall has a rich and important history. Named after Minnesota’s fifth governor, William R. Marshall, the city became home to many important endeavors. In this fast-paced world of technology it’s important to take a moment and look back at where it all began and the accomplishments achieved.

For the March of Dimes, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the March of Dimes in 1938 to “lead, direct and unify” the fight against polio. Affected by polio himself, polio was an epidemic disease that paralyzed or killed up to 52,000 Americans, mostly children, every year.

In 1952, when Marvin Schwan began home delivery of his family’s ice cream in Southwestern Minnesota, the March of Dimes was funding the work of Dr. Jonas Salk. Volunteers raised money to care for polio patients with events like Mother’s March carried out in communities across the country including Marshall. In 1955 the Salk vaccine was declared “safe, effective and potent.” March of Dimes later funded the development of the Sabin vaccine which became available in 1962. Nearly all babies born today still receive a lifesaving polio vaccine.

Another important milestone in Marshall’s history came in 1963 when Southwest Minnesota State University was founded. That same year March of Dimes research led to the first newborn screening test for PKU, an inherited disorder that causes intellectual disability. Today, thanks to March of Dimes advocacy, every baby in Minnesota is screened at birth for 54 serious but treatable conditions.

Today, SMSU offers 45 undergraduate majors to 3,700 students. Today, Schwan’s delivers more than 350 restaurant-quality products to homes across the country, an achievement founder Marvin Schwan would be proud of.

Today, the March of Dimes is hard at work to prevent the epidemic of premature birth, which affects nearly a half million babies every year. Throughout its history, the March of Dimes has supported many important research milestones that have benefitted newborn and child health. It’s a legacy founder President Roosevelt would be proud of as well.

Let’s celebrate our history and look forward to future accomplishments. Together we are working for stronger, healthier babies.