SEBRING - Some residents of Tanglewood clapped Wednesday as Linda Margritz, who has no muscles in one leg, used a newly installed lift to get in and out of the community pool.
It was bittersweet and somewhat ironic victory for Margritz, who contracted polio in 1951 in Omaha, Neb.
"My parents took me to a swimming pool and they attributed it (her contracting polio) to that," recalled Margritz, who is 67 years old.
She contracted the disease apparently during the outset of a large epidemic during which a lot of people stayed home, she said.
When she and her parents went to a children's hospital, "it was so crowded with children, that we were waiting out in the hall," she remembered.
Margritz said she was more fortunate than some other children who ended up having to live in an iron lung, which allowed them to breathe. An iron lung is described as a rigid case fitted over a patient's body, used for administering prolonged artificial respiration by means of mechanical pumps.
A close friend who ended up in that situation died from lung ailments because she lived in the iron lung, Margritz said.
Margritz contracted polio six years before human trials began of an oral vaccine developed by Albert Sabin and four years before the 1955 public announcement of an injected vaccine created by Jonas Salk, according to Wikipedia.
Although Margritz was left with no muscles in a leg, she has led an active life, which she attributes to encouragement from parents, as well as the medical treatment she has received. Numerous falls resulting in broken bones haven't deterred her, she said.
Even with today's medical advances, she said, "there is nothing they can do for me."
Because of that, her use of the swimming pool was more limited than what she wanted, she said.
Margaritz said that although she can swim, she couldn't climb down the steps into the pool.
Ever since she and her husband moved to Tanglewood about seven years ago, she said, they've been seeking a lift. She credited a lot of the success in getting one to the Tanglewood Homeowners Association.
Don Toth, president of the association, said they had to convince the owners to buy the $4,000 lift, which costs another $2,000 to install.
Presenting them a copy of the Americans With Disabilities Act and a change of management helped, he added.
"By law in Florida you have to have it," said Rick Sellers, the manager who took over last month.
Sellers said the lift can be outfitted to help people with various type of physical disabilities.
Margaritz was able to get off a mobile cart onto the lift lower herself, get off the lift and swim and then get back off of it.