History: The 1950's
In the 1950s, United Cerebral Palsy volunteers used their powerful
connections in politics and entertainment to bring national attention to the organization and its cause. In addition to producing film trailers with famous Hollywood screen stars such as John Wayne, Danny Thomas, Gene Kelly, Henry Fonda, and Joan Crawford, United Cerebral Palsy heightened the public's awareness of cerebral palsy and raised money to fund programs by broadcasting its first telethon in 1950, which lasted for 15 hours and raised nearly one million dollars. UCP volunteer Marie Kilillea used the literary arena to inform people about cerebral palsy when she wrote a book about her daughter in 1952. The novel, Karen, hit the best seller list in only four weeks and remains required reading in many public schools.
Convinced that public awareness and programs were not enough to assist people with cerebral palsy, Isabelle Goldenson convinced Dr. Sidney Farber from Harvard Medical School to do research on the prevention of cerebral palsy. In 1955, Dr. Farber gathered 14 of America's top medical scientists and formed the United Cerebral
Palsy Research & Educational Foundation. Together, UCP and the
Foundation funded research as well as clinical and training programs aimed at better understanding cerebral palsy.