The speaker at the club’s Wednesday luncheon was Craig Needham, a veteran trial lawyer.

The focus of Needham’s highly emotional talk was polio, where he described his mother’s twelve-year battle with the disease.
Needham was born and raised in the San Jose area. When he was three years old, his mother contracted polio while on a vacation to the Lake
Tahoe area with her family.  She was rushed home and was diagnosed with a polio that resulted in her total incapacitation. She was put in an iron lung.

 
Meanwhile his father left the family and as Needham explained “split from the country.” Needham, a toddler of three at the time of his mother’s onset of the disease, and his two older sisters were sent to foster homes.
 
He said his mother eventually won back custody of the children and moved the family to a house in San Jose. There, she required nurses to care for her around the clock.
 
When Needham was in sixth grade, his mother authored a book about living with polio. She lived for twelve years in the iron lung before passing away peacefully.
 
Needham then turned his attention to Rotary’s decade long effort to eradicate polio worldwide. “I had no idea what you’ve done, but I am impressed.”
 
He talked about Rotary’s Polio Plus program. It is an effort by Rotarians started in 1987 to eradicate polio worldwide. When Rotary International took on this project there were nearly 400,000 new cases of polio worldwide annually. Now, all countries except two, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are polio free and the incidence of polio has declined to the low double digits. “’I want to thank Rotary for saving millions of people from polio,” he said, adding, “and you are still doing inoculations.”
 
He said, “Rotary’s Polio Plus program is the best kept secret in America."