Historic moments -- Easter Seals
Allen in the December 1936 issue of The Rotarian
. Rotary Images
In 1929, The Rotary Foundation made its first donation: a US$500 gift to the International Society for Crippled Children, known today as Easter Seals.
Rotarian Edgar F. Allen founded the society in 1921 with help from the Rotary Club of Elyria, Ohio, USA, to aid children afflicted with crippling diseases. Rotary founder Paul Harris served as chair of the society.
Allen joined the Elyria club in 1918. In 1919, at a special club meeting, he presented his idea to provide specialized care to children with disabilities in their own communities. Elyria Rotarians were moved by his presentation and took up his cause, founding what would become the International Society for Crippled Children.
Providing access to adequate medical care was an important cause to Allen. In 1907, one of Allen's sons died due to lack of medical care after a street car accident. Allen committed himself to building a hospital in Elyria and sold his successful business to devote his efforts to fundraising.
On 30 October 1908, the Elyria Memorial Hospital opened. Allen also helped to build the Gates Hospital, the first hospital in the United States devoted to the care of children with disabilities, which opened in 1915.
Daddy Allen, as he was called by the children who knew him, has been credited with coining the phrase “Keep on keeping on.”
Rotary clubs and Rotarians continue to work with local Easter Seals organizations as volunteers, event sponsors, and donors.
For more historical information about Rotary, visit Rotary History and Archives or the Rotary Global History Fellowship .