Special Features Helen Hayes Fundraiser

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Actress Helen Hayes visiting with patients in the Mary MacArthur Respirator Unit, which provided care for children and adults suffering from poliomyelitis, 1950


The Convalescent Home

The Convalescent Home opened the Mary MacArthur Respirator Unit in 1950. The unit was a memorial to the late Mary MacArthur, the 19-year-old daughter of actress Helen Hayes and Charles MacArthur, who died of polio in 1949.

Helen Hayes, affectionately know as the First Lady of American Theater, was a renowned actress; one of nine to ever receive all four of the prestigious entertainment awards (a Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar). When her daughter, Mary, lost her young life to Polio, Helen channeled her grief into action, founding the Mary MacArthur Fund, which opened the Mary MacArthur Respirator Unit in collaboration with the March of Dimes, to treat victims of Polio. She was quoted as stating: "The very worst thing that can happen is to bury your young."

In this 1951 recording, Helen speaks on behalf of Boston Children's Hospital for their fundraising campaign, encouraging listeners to give to the hospital for a new building where research and treatment will lead to advances in the fight against childhood diseases such as Cerebral Palsy, Rheumatic Fever, Nephritis, Cancer and Polio.

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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