On June 23, 1940, Wilma Rudolph was born in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Having been born prematurely and weighing only 4.5 pounds, little Wilma was susceptible to illness and her mother spent several years nursing her through measles, mumps and scarlet fever.
One day her family noticed that Wilma's left foot was becoming weak. Her mother took her to the doctor who informed them that Wilma had polio and would never walk.
Wilma's mother refused to accept the diagnosis. She had something special in her heart - she had the power of belief and she told her young daughter that one day she would walk. Wilma's mother had the belief the led her to take action and twice a week for the next two years, she took her daughter for treatment to a hospital that was over 50 miles away.
The doctors at the hospital taught Mrs. Rudolph how to perform the physical therapy exercises Wilma needed and every night she would massage her daughter's legs late into the evening.
Wilma progressed slowly but steadily. By the time she was seven she could walk with the aid of metal leg braces.
At school, Wilma sat and watched the other children running and told herself that one day she too would enjoy the freedom of being able to run.
In 1952, 12 year old Wilma finally threw away her metal leg braces and was able to walk without assistance for the first time. It was then that she made the decision to be an athlete.
She started to play basketball and also did some running in the off season to keep fit. As time progressed, Wilma became a basketball star, setting state records and leading her team to a state championship.
During one basketball match, Wilma was spotted by the Tennessee State track and field coach Edward Temple who was amazed by Wilma's athletic ability. With coach Temple's help, Wilma turned her focus from basketball to running and she never looked back.
By the time she was 16, Wilma had earned a spot on the US Olympic track and field team and won a bronze medal in the 4×100m relay at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Four years later, Wilma Rudolph won three Olympic Gold medals at the 1960 Rome Olympics in the 100m, 200m and 4×100m relay. The little girl who was once crippled was now "The fastest woman in history."
"I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened." - Wilma Rudolph
When you DREAM BIG...Anything is Possible!