On Thursday, October 25, the Frankenmuth Noon Rotary recognized World Polio Day. During the regular meeting, Rotarians had the opportunity to hear the story of Marty Tyckoski. Marty and his wife Roz are long time Frankenmuth residents and he is a polio survivor. Although not present in the United States since 1979, polio, or poliomyelitis, is a highly infectious disease caused by the polio virus. Before a vaccine was discovered, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the United States. In the early 1950s it caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis each year.
He was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. He was diagnosed with poliomyelitis, or polio, when he was three. During that same summer, his sister, neighbor and cousin also contracted polio. During his childhood, he and his sister spent many summers in the hospital, recovering from surgeries designed to help improve their quality of life. During this time, Marty shared that his parents were especially determined to let him have a childhood as normal as possible.
“My parents always encouraged me. They let me break a leg before they told me not to play football,” he said. After completing high school at St. John Vianney in Flint, Marty attended Michigan State University where he majored in accounting. During his presentation to Rotary, Marty stressed that it was important to him throughout college that he was able to make his way to and from classes. He shared that, for example, during his time at Michigan State, he scheduled his classes with an hour break in between so he had time to get from one building to the next. Even though he experienced some medical setbacks during his time there, he graduated within four years. He then attended Law School at the University of Texas at Austin, where he again graduated in four years. He moved back to Michigan, passed the bar and began practice in Michigan, eventually specializing in probate. Marty has represented clients before the State Appeals Court, the State Supreme Court, the US 6th District Court of Appeals and filed a Writ of Certiori with the US Supreme Court.
As a survivor of polio, Marty is also now facing the medical challenges associated with post Polio Syndrome. This is a medical condition that occurs 15 to 40 years after the initial infection and causes a worsening of symptoms associated with polio.
Marty is still a practicing attorney, although he is slowly retiring and now goes into the office only three days a week. During his career he acted as de facto Genesee County Guardian and Conservator for approximately 25 years and has expertise and specialized in elder law, Medicare and Medicaid, estate planning. Marty also specialized in representation of clients who are developmentally disabled, elderly and unable to handle their affairs, or unable to make critical life decisions on their own. Even as he slows down his work life, Marty believes his work helps him. While he admits that he gets tired, he says “If I stop getting up every day and doing something I probably wouldn’t do anything.”
While widespread use of the polio vaccine has eradicated the disease from the United States, it is still present throughout portions of the world. Today, there are only three countries that have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Until polio is eradicated, all countries remain at risk of outbreaks. "We were privileged to learn about polio from one of our own community members,” said Mary Anne Akerman, President of the Frankenmuth Noon Rotary Club. “As a result, we better understand the urgency in eradicating this horrible disease.”
Frankenmuth Noon Rotary, and Rotary Clubs throughout the world, are dedicated to eradicating polio on a global level. Rotary will raise $50 million per year over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Rotary funds rarely are used to actually purchase vaccines but rather to provide support to ensure that vaccines are adequately distributed. Rotary funds typically help with harder to provide and fund costs like staffing, transportation, and even refrigeration.