The Rotary Club of Gastonia

R.B Babbington and The N.C. Orthopedic Hospital

The Rotary Club of Gastonia was formed January 1, 1920. Among the distinguished charter members of the club was an ambitious man by the name of Robert B Babbington. R.B. was a man of action whose determination would bring his visions to reality.   After reading in 1909 about a crippled child that could not be accepted into a North Carolina orphanage, Babbington had a vision of creating a hospital for crippled children.  The North Carolina Orthopedic Hospital was created in 1921, becoming the first orthopedic hospital south of Philadelphia.   The hospital played a central role during the polio epidemic, treating hundreds of patients who were stricken with polio.  Dr. George Miller was one of the distinguished orthopedic doctors working at the hospital.  Enjoy the YouTube video of an interview of Dr. Miller and one of his patients, David Stultz by clicking here.

With the discovery and creation of a vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk, polio was eventually irradicated in the United States with the last case of naturally occurring polio being in 1979, the same year that the N.C. Orthopedic Hospital closed its doors.  The Rotary Club of Gastonia through the support of its members and the community continues to support Rotary International in its quest to eliminate polio from the entire earth. Gastonia Rotarians, through our Crowd Out Polio event, continue R.B.Babbinton’s legacy to prevent a devastating and crippling childhood disease. The Rotary Club of Gastonia and its 140 members continue to champion the mission of Rotary International to provide service to others, promote integrity and advance world understanding and goodwill and peace through our fellowship of business, professional and community leaders. 


Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in some parts of the world. The poliovirus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in hours. It can strike people of any age but mainly affects children under five. Polio can be prevented by vaccines, but it is not curable. Unlike most diseases, polio can be eradicated.

Rotary members have contributed more than $2.1 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries from this paralyzing disease. Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by governments to contribute more than $10 billion to the effort.

Polio Today

When Rotary and its partners formed the GPEI in 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries every year. Today, we have reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent, and just two countries continue to report cases of wild poliovirus: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Because of the efforts of Rotary and its partners, nearly 19 million people who would otherwise have been paralyzed are walking, and more than 1.5 million people are alive who would otherwise have died. The infrastructure we helped build to end poliois also being used to treat and prevent other diseases(including COVID-19) and create lasting impact in other areas of public health.