As a child stricken with polio, JoAnn Potts discovered what it meant to have a disability, and how much it meant to have help to overcome it.
Potts did overcome her disability and, inspired by her personal experience, dedicated herself to helping others by working in health care. For nearly four decades, Potts has worked for the Rush Blood Center’s transfusion services, where she’s currently the quality assurance coordinator.
In recognition of her determination and her dedication, Potts received this year’s Eugene J-M.A. Thonar, PhD, Award in October. Named for a Rush professor of biochemistry and orthopedic surgery, the award is given annually to a Rush employee, faculty member, student or volunteer whose efforts further Rush’s commitment to accessibility and to providing professional and educational opportunities to people with disabilities.
A native of Jackson, Miss., Potts was stricken with polio when she was 2 years old, during an epidemic that swept the country in the 1950s, shortly before a vaccine eradicated the paralyzing viral disease almost entirely. She initially needed crutches and a leg brace to walk, but following three corrective surgeries she regained the ability to walk on her own by age 9.