Polio Archives - StoryCorps

A Mile in Her Shoes: How A Polio Survivor Forged Her Own Path

Shirley Duhart and her three younger brothers were raised by a single mom in Vine City, Georgia: a segregated, poverty-stricken area at the time. She contracted polio when she was 2 years old, just five years before the vaccine was released. Undaunted, she went on to have a successful career in the tech industry, and to mentor youth on how to navigate college and the corporate world.

Shirley Duhart on the Emory University campus in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1990s.

And Shirley has always defined herself in her own terms, evident in the way she dresses. While her doctors recommended she wear flat, well-balanced shoes, Shirley has been wearing pumps since she was thirteen. She came to StoryCorps with her longtime friend and doctor, Dale Strasser, to talk about why her shoes mean so much to her.

Shirley Duhart and Dale Strasser at their StoryCorps in Atlanta, Georgia on January 17, 2023.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Originally aired April 21, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.