Local businessman holds Jonas Salk celebration in Greenwich

Greenwich founder of several high impact companies, Kevin Kimberlin, calls polio vaccine hero Jonas Salk his greatest inspiration. He’s celebrating Salk’s life with a film screening, book signing and reception on Oct. 22, from 6-8 p.m., at the theater in the Hyatt Hotel, 1800 Putnam Avenue in Old Greenwich. The event is being held to coincide with World Polio Day on Oct. 24.

Author Charlotte Jacobs will speak about her just-released biography on Salk, “Jonas Salk: A Life.” In addition, a recently released 32-minute documentary film about Salk and his polio vaccine, “The Shot Felt ‘Round the World” will be shown. Kimberlin will discuss his personal connection and immunology work with Salk at the event, which is open to the public and will include a reception.

Salk’s tireless work against disease impressed Kimberlin when they co-founded an immunology company to develop vaccines for cancer and HIV in 1986. Kimberlin said, “Dr. Salk had a profound impact on me. More importantly, his story provides us all of us with a blueprint for progress — a blueprint for how humanity can work together to solve other major problems in the future. “

Kimberlin explained, “Thanks to the Salk polio vaccine, the demise of one of history’s most feared diseases is imminent.” Kimberlin feels that Salk and his polio vaccine will be in the news soon because of an announcement by the World Health Organization. By the end of 2015, according to WHO, every nation in the world (but one) has committed to use the Salk vaccine (IPV) to finish off polio. Bill Gates emphasized its importance when he called polio eradication “a chance at one of the greatest successes of mankind.”

Substantial contributions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have made this possible. Gates said it is crucial to eradicate polio because, “If we don’t get rid of it, it will spread back into countries where it’s been eliminated…” At its worst, polio paralyzed or killed over half a million people worldwide. Now it is only found in two countries.

Kimberlin said, in regard to the film screening, “It’s absolutely gripping to watch rare footage of how Salk led this effort, starting with the largest clinical trial ever conducted (1.8 million children).” Now Ms. Jacobs tells the definitive story of Jonas Salk’s life.

“I love this man,” said Kimberlin. “He’s been a giant in my life, a monumental inspiration and I want to share that inspiration with other people.”

To learn more, see beyondpolio.org.

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