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  • by Meish Goldish bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbyyyyyyyyyyyyy MMMMMMMMMMeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiisssssssshhhhhhhhhhh GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGooooolllllllddddddiiissssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    Suggested levels for Guided Reading, DRA,™ Lexile,® and Reading Recovery™ are provided in the Pearson Scott Foresman Leveling Guide.

    Scott Foresman Reading Street 5.4.2

    Genre Comprehension

    Skills and Strategy Text Features

    Expository nonfi ction

    • Generalize

    • Author’s Purpose

    • Predict and Set Purpose

    • Table of Contents

    • Captions

    • Glossary

    ISBN-13: ISBN-10:

    978-0-328-52527-0 0-328-52527-8

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    Chapter 1 A Difficult Childhood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Chapter 2 The Will to Walk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Chapter 3 New Opportunities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Chapter 4 The 1960 Olympics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Chapter 5 Helping Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

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  • 4

    A Difficult Childhood From the day she was born in 1940, Wilma Rudolph

    faced obstacles that would have stopped someone less remarkable. In a large, poor family in the South, she was born twentieth in a family of 22 children and, as a child, faced many medical problems. Yet, despite her humble background and the illnesses she fought, she never allowed these struggles to get in the way of her dreams. Instead, she trusted her strength and determination to help her succeed. Ultimately, they helped make her the extraordinary woman she became—the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal and a role model for many.

    Wilma’s struggles began when she was born two months premature. She was very underweight. As a result, she was so weak that doctors feared she might not live past her first year.

    Wilma just barely survived, and in her early years, she battled numerous other illnesses. Early on, she contracted double pneumonia, a serious lung disease. She also contracted whooping cough, measles, and chicken pox and, later, a very dangerous and high fever called scarlet fever.


    Today, there is an immunization that prevents people from getting polio. When Wilma was a child, however, the medicine had not yet been invented.

    However, when she was five, Wilma faced the most serious medical condition of her life. She became sick with polio, a disease that attacks and weakens muscles, many times leaving victims permanently disabled. As a result, Wilma’s left leg turned inward and wouldn’t move. Doctors thought that she would never walk again.

    Wilma’s mother was determined to get her daughter the medical help that she needed. But it wasn’t easy because the family lived in Clarksville, Tennessee, which practiced segregation like most southern towns at the time. Not only did black people live apart from white people, but they weren’t allowed to use the same hospitals as whites either.

  • 6

    On their trips to Nashville, Wilma and her mother had to sit in the back of a bus similar to this one, because buses in the South were segregated.

    So, twice a week, Wilma and her mother made a long 50-mile trip by bus to a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, that treated black patients with polio. At the hospital, doctors did what they could. They bathed Wilma’s bad leg in hot water and rubbed the muscles. They showed Wilma and her mother how to massage and exercise her leg to make it stronger.

    However, doctors there could not do very much for Wilma. There was still no cure for polio, and those who got the disease (most often children) generally died or were disabled for life.


    Keeping the damaged muscles in water was a common treatment for polio victims in Wilma’s day.

    At home, Wilma did leg exercises even though they hurt her leg a lot. Fortunately, she had a large support team to help. Wilma’s older brothers and sisters, many of whom were living at home, were eager to help their little sister in any way they could. They took turns rubbing Wilma’s leg muscles and offered words of hope.

    Yet even with their encouragement, Wilma often felt hopeless. She couldn’t even go to school because the only way she could get around was by hopping on one leg. Stuck at home all day, Wilma was lonely and often found herself crying.

  • 8

    Six-year-old Wilma Rudolph, right, poses with her older sister Yvonne in an undated photo

    The Will to Walk When she turned six, Wilma finally received some

    encouraging news. Her left leg had grown strong enough to be fitted with a heavy metal brace, which helped Wilma walk—or at least limp—instead of hop.

    Wilma was thrilled because it meant that she could go to school. However, returning to school was not nearly as pleasant as she had hoped. The majority of her classmates teased her about the large metal brace on her leg.

    “I was so lonely, and I felt rejected,” Wilma recalled. “I would close my eyes and just drift off into a sinking feeling, going down, down, down.”

    To make matters worse, on the playground, Wilma wasn’t allowed to participate in any physical activity. Instead, she could only sit on the sidelines and watch the other students play different games, one of which was basketball.

    Th Will t W


    The desire to play basketball inspired Wilma to overcome her difficult situation.

    As she sat on the sidelines watching her classmates play, Wilma became interested in basketball. She had plenty of time to learn the rules, study how her classmates moved across the court, and examine how they scored points. Increasingly, Wilma became determined to find a way to play the game herself. But she knew it was impossible to play with a brace on her leg; she needed to be able to walk on her own.

    One Sunday, ten-year-old Wilma decided to try walking. Since she had worked hard on her leg exercises for years, Wilma felt confident. The church service was already underway when she and her family arrived. In the back of the church, Wilma carefully took off the brace for the first time. With a great effort, she began to walk very slowly down the church aisle. The sight stunned people and, a hush fell on the crowd. Finally, Wilma arrived at the front pews and took her seat. Some churchgoers wondered if they had just witnessed a miracle!

  • 10

    Wilma knew there was no substitute for dedication and hard work. For the next two years, she struggled to walk without her leg brace for longer periods of time. In fact, by the time Wilma was 12, her leg was so strong that she was able to keep the brace off for good. Her doctors declared her fully recovered.

    Wilma now felt like her life was beginning all over again. She had grown to be a tall girl who could move at lightning speed. Instead of just watching basketball games, she began to play in them! She moved well on the court, and she became the star player of her high school basketball team, d