People We Know

News about people who have made significant contributions to the disability community

Judith Fischer Retires

Jacquelin Perry, MD, 1918-2013

Carol Thompson received the Christie Gutierrez Award

PHI Board of Directors Honors Larry Becker

Honoring Morton Freilicher on His 80th Birthday

Max D. Starkloff, September 18, 1937–December 27, 2010

Gary McPherson, 1946-2010

Fr. Robert J. Ronald, SJ, October 1, 1932–January 2, 2009

Post Polio Conference in Mexico City, October 2007

The Provan Opportunity Center in Pflugerville, Texas

C. Donald O'Connor. A Life Well Lived

Nickie Lancaster of Polio Heroes of Tennessee Receives
the First Ever Buddy Killen Memorial Volunteer Service Award

From Maggie Prestwich about John Prestwich

News from Àla Wokoun, Czech Polio Survivor

In Memoriam: Edward Anthony "Tony" Oppenheimer, MD

Gertrud Weiss Receives the German Award of Merit

Ála Wokoun: Czech Polio Survivor's Trilogy

In Memoriam: Ira Holland

Dr. Stanley Yarnell Retires

Gary McPherson Named to Order of Canada

Father Robert Ronald of Operation de-Handicap, Taiwan, Retires

In Memoriam: Hugh Gallagher, 1932-2004

Carol receiving award.MAY 2013
Carol Thompson received the Christie Gutierrez Award on April 20, 2013 from Hub City Access to honor her fight for accessibility.

One of Christie’s passions was to see a more accessible society for individuals with disabilities. Carol does, too. Hub City Access (HCA) is a Lubbock, Texas, non-profit organization, established in 2007 through the Lester E. Wolcott Memorial Foundation and LIFE/RUN Center. 

JULY 2007
Nickie Lancaster of Polio Heroes of Tennessee Receives the First Ever Buddy Killen Memorial Volunteer Service Award

Left to right: Susan Armigos, CEO, Easter Seals Tennessee; Charlie Chase; Mike Curb; Nickie Lancaster, 2007 Buddy Killen Memorial Volunteer Service Award.Nickie Lancaster is a mother, wife, medical professional and dedicated, giving volunteer, and is also a post polio survivor. In the summer of 1950, at the age of eight, Lancaster contracted polio while attending a camp. In 1987, she founded Polio Heroes of Tennessee, a program of Easter Seals Tennessee. Today she remains the coordinator of the program not only planning meetings, but also helping re-educate the medical community about polio. As medical schools discontinued education about polio, Nickie, believing that polio is a relevant issue today, has persisted in communicating with the medical field and providing literature to polio survivors in numerous states, four provinces in Canada, Taiwan and Japan.

Left to right: Susan Armigos, CEO, Easter Seals Tennessee; Charlie Chase; Mike Curb; Nickie Lancaster, 2007 Buddy Killen Memorial Volunteer Service Award.

Mrs. Lancaster was the 1998 Recipient of the State of Tennessee Disability Person of the Year, Governor's Trophy for Employment of Persons with Disabilities. In 2000, Mrs. Lancaster spoke at the International Polio Conference in Saint Louis, Missouri, on "The Benefits of Hot Pool Therapy to Polio Survivors". In 2002, she received the Tennessean Volunteer Hero Award by WMSV-TV Channel 4. In 2005, Mrs. Lancaster was named to a 12 member International Post-Polio Advisory Committee. She graduated in 1962 from Nashville General Hospital School of Nursing and has worked in the medical community for over 45 years. She is married to Alan Lancaster, Sr., has five children, one adopted son and four grandchildren.

MARCH 2006
From Maggie Prestwich about John Prestwich

"It is with great sadness that I write to tell you all that my darling John died on Monday 27th February. He had been in St. Thomas' Hospital, London for a few weeks undergoing tests for an obvious problem with his blood chemistry. The day he was due to come home he suddenly developed tremendous stomach pains. Following investigations and tests, he underwent emergency surgery and it was discovered that he had a perforated stomach.

He survived the operation but for the next 3 weeks he was being ventilated by the tracheotomy they'd had to perform at the time of surgery. This was unbelievably devastating for him as it meant he was unable to communicate.

Added to that, his one kidney wasn't functioning so he was on dialysis. On Monday 7th February he had to be taken to the operating theatre again to find the reason why he wasn't recovering as well as he should be. Sadly, this time he didn't make it and died on the operating table. All I can be thankful for is that he was unconscious at the time and therefore not suffering. Also, I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted to spend the rest of his life possibly on dialysis and maybe unable to revert back to using a negative pressure ventilator – i.e. ending up not as a person with a disability but as an invalid.

John AscotIn spite of the extent and the length of time (50 years) of his disability, he was such a positive person. He was such an inspiration to not only all who met him, but from all the emails we have received from many people worldwide who over the years have come across our website, He has been an inspiration to people we have not met. A service of Thanksgiving for his inspirational life is being held on March 16th at our village church in Chipperfield, Hertfordshire UK.

Photo of John Prestwich (taken at Royal Ascot 2003) which depicts his positive spirit and that wonderful twinkle he always had in those blue eyes of his.

News from Ála Wokoun, Czech Polio Survivor

Alois and Drahomira celebrating Christmas.The last issue of our Bulletin of the Czech Polio Survivors' Association has published my article and included basic information on the recent changes in your excellent organization at Post-Polio Health International and your informative Post-Polio Health.

Last November, I suffered from a new physical complication in addition to my polio. My leg broke and due to my high age (I shall be 80 in April), the fracture obliterates slowly, so that I spent Christmas in bed. My wife, Drahomira, also a polio survivor, and I celebrated 55 years of marriage last year.

I continue to write about specific problems of polio survivors when they receive injuries. The best wishes to PHI's readers, Àla Wokoun,

Read his article, Polio and Injury (pdf)

MAY 2004
Ála Wokoun: Czech Polio Survivor's Trilogy

Polio Association of the Czech Republic ( has published a biographic trilogy sponsored by the Czech Ministry of Culture. The author of the three Czech paperbacks, Mr. Ála (Alois) Wokoun was affected by polio in 1945 when he was 19. The trilogy has not been published in English, but the basic author's English biography from the year of his paralysis is in the website with two photographs and contacts.

In the first tome of his trilogy, under the title SVETOBEZNIKEM SE SADISTKOU (Globetrotter with Sadist Polio), the author narrated his dialogues and duels with polio, how he became a Kenny therapist in wheelchair, and in other chapters, he humorously depicted his travels on crutches and in a wheelchair to 40 countries on 4 continents. Some of his adventures, e.g. how he became an therapist or coqueted with a camel, were published by Gini Laurie in Toomey j Gazette. Later the readers of the Rehabilitation Gazette from Saint Louis read how a paraplegic was able to mount an elephant.

In the second tome SLASTI VOZICKARE (Delights of a Wheelchair User, 2000), Ala Wokoun satirically deals with wheelchair users' specific troubles, and also with their pleasant experiences. The book was awarded a prize of the Czech Government Committee for Disabled Citizens, and Czech Radio 2 read many chapters on seven evenings in January 2004. The author narrated how he married, carried his baby in his wheelchair, studied law, theory of art and developed informative contacts of the Czech Polio Association and the Czech League of Wheelchair Users with foreign partners including the GINI, now Post-Polio Health International, informing Czech Polios on its deserved activity.

In some chapters he depicted his experiences as a delegate at the Independence Congress in Vancouver and the World Congress of Rehabilitation International in Nairobi in 1992. He wrote also about his interest in modern African art and how he gave lectures to university students from his wheelchair and how Czech television documented it.

The trilogy's last tome, VYSINUTY SENIOR (Aberrant Senior, 2003), narrates the differences of a senior with late effects of polio and - in spite of them - about his many possibilities even after 75 years of age, e.g. surfing and researching on internet, further adventures in an power wheelchair, literary activity in the world of unlimited fantasy and a frivolous, lightminded philosophy.

To next page of PEOPLE WE KNOW


Back to top