Wilma Rudolph, born in Tennessee in 1940, had scarlet fever and double pneumonia as a young child. She also contracted polio and couldn’t walk without braces until she was eleven years of age.
Every day one of young Wilma’s many brothers and sisters carefully massaged her crippled leg for her, until she was able to walk with the help of a corrective shoe.
Eventually, however, Wilma started playing basketball and running; by the time she was sixteen years old, Wilma was breaking state basketball records for girls, and she was an undefeated sprinter for her high school track team.
When she ran track for Tennessee State University, she became renowned for her speed. She received much attention for her collegiate track performances, and in July 1960 she set a world record for the 200- meter dash.
In the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Wilma Rudolph won three Olympic gold medals. She was the first American woman to do so.
Wilma Rudolph’s example teaches a lesson about the merits of hard work, determination, bravery, and the love of family.