Wilma Rudolph was a premature born baby, who weighed only 4.5 pounds when she was born. She was the 20th of 22 children. Her father worked as a railroad porter, and handyman, and her mother did laundry, cooked, and house cleaned for wealthy white families in their area. The family had such little money, that the girls frequently wore dresses made of flour sacks. She was sick often when she was little, there was no hospital for the colored in town, and the one black doctor would cost money. So her mother nursed her through measles, mumps, scarlet fever, chicken pox, and even double pneumonia. She did need to go to the doctor when she lost sensation in her left leg, and it started to become deformed. They were told she now had polio, and she would never walk. Her mother took her to a black medical college in Nashville, which was fifty miles away, twice a week for two years. Wilma started to walk, wearing a metal leg brace. The doctors taught her mother how to do the physical therapy at home. Her brothers and sisters helped her. By the age of twelve, she could walk normally, without any crutch, brace, or even a corrective shoe. It was then she decided she wanted to try athletics.
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