But another thing they all had in common is a desire for the next generations to know about them so we’ll realize how fortunate we are to have vaccines. “When children inquire what happened to me, I tell them the nerve wires that tell my muscles what to do were damaged by a virus,” Mona said. “And ask them if they have had their vaccine to prevent this. No one has ever argued with me.”

Alexander told me that if he had kids he would have made sure they were vaccinated. “Now, my worst thought is that polio’s come back,” he said. “If there’s so many people who’ve not been—children, especially—have not been vaccinated… I don’t even want to think about it.”

Lillard is heartbroken when she meets anti-vaccine activists. “Of course, I’m concerned about any place where there’s no vaccine,” she said. “I would just do anything to prevent somebody from having to go through what I have. I mean, my mother, if she had the vaccine available, I would have had it in a heartbeat.”