Richard’s Story: Update

Just wanted to mention that Richard Daggett’s autobiography about his life before, during and after the polio epidemic of the 1950’s is now available at Amazon.com!  

The book is entitled  Not Just Polio:  My Life Story.  Click on the highlighted link to go to the product page on Amazon’s website. 

Also, here’s part of an article in The Downey Patriot newspaper about Richard and his book.

“Richard Daggett’s autobiography presents a clear and comprehensive view of his experience with polio,” said legendary Rancho physician Jacquelin Perry, MD in the foreword to the book. “Every episode he reviews is stimulating and told with candor.” Richard spent two years at Rancho to recover enough independent breathing and leg strength sufficient for walking with braces. But his severe scoliosis caused by polio showed no significant gains. So Dr. Perry and Dr. Vernon Nickel successfully stabilized Richard’s spine with a revolutionary spinal fusion procedure that allowed him to sit and stand erect.

“The vision and determination which became evident during this long challenge, were, without a doubt, significant elements which enhanced his effectiveness as an advocate to improve the welfare, comfort and safety of the severely disabled patients who lacked adequate resources,” Dr. Perry said.

Dr. Perry has treated Richard for more than 50 years. Today, the scourge of Post-Polio syndrome affects many of the world’s 5 million polio survivors. Richard and Dr. Perry continue to make a difference for those who have battled polio over all these years.

The book highlights Richard’s life of service to the disabled community. “As President of the Polio Survivors Association and President of Rancho’s Amigos Fund, Richard is a role model and a lifesaver to countless individuals,” said former Rancho Director of Social Work Greg Thompson. “People come to him in crisis, and with his knowledge of polio, the benefits system, and special caregiver programs, he is able not only to solve problems, but to instill hope. When you look at what he’s done for polio survivors, it’s amazing.”

Richard’s book has been very well-received. One reviewer said, “It’s wonderful, and of course the photos are priceless. A tribute to Richard’s parents, a paean to Rancho Los Amigos, a history of Los Angeles and Southern California in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and honest discussion of sexuality, a first-rate description of a tracheotomy and spinal fusion, and how he kept his head through it all.”

Another reviewer said, “It is a good read. It is nostalgic for those of us who are old enough to remember the 1950s and great for those who enjoy reading about recent history. The author recalls the events of his life clearly and with absolute candor.”

Richard has given nearly 10,000 volunteer hours to Rancho Los Amigos, making him one of the top 10 volunteers in the 122-year history of the hospital.

“He was Volunteer of the Year for Rancho in 1988, but as far as I’m concerned, he could be Volunteer of the Year every year,” said Rancho’s Director of Volunteer Services Debbie Tomlinson. In 2006, Rancho awarded Richard its highest honor, The Amistad Award.

In addition to his work at Rancho and in his volunteer organizations, Richard is an active journalist who has written extensively on disability and the human condition. He has appeared in several film and television documentaries about polio, and was featured in a noted Huell Howser video on the history of Rancho.

Richard has authored several pieces of legislation benefiting those with severe disability. “He learned from his parents how to overcome barriers caused by his disabling condition, and he continues to overcome every barrier he encounters to be a powerful advocate for other individuals with disabling illnesses and injuries,” said Rancho Chief Executive Officer Jorge Orozco.

Richard is a longtime member of the United Methodist Church in Downey, where he is a lay speaker. He is also a member of the Downey Coordinating Council. A brilliant landscape photographer, he serves as an instructor in the Don Knabe Pediatric Photography program at Rancho. He still enjoys music and is a major history buff.

“Richard is a true inspiration to all of us,” said world-renowned Rancho artist Steve Clay. “He is one of the kindest, most gentle, most loving and most talented people I have ever met.”

“I just think we’re put on this earth to help one another,” Richard said. “If I can help improve the life of even one person, then I’m enriched also…and I think that’s what we’re here for.”

Richard with Rancho physician Dr. Jacquelin Perry, who has treated him for 50 years.

The Rancho Los Amigos Foundation will hold a special reception and book signing at noon on Friday, June 25 at Rancho’s Support Services Annex Building Room 1150 to celebrate Richard’s life, his 70th birthday and his innumerable contributions to the city and the hospital he loves. Rancho is located at 7601 E. Imperial Highway in Downey, CA.

To read my original post about Richard’s Story, click here.