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Courtesy photo. Virginia “Ginger” (Visel) Ford with her mother.

(Please note that purchasing information for this book has been added to the end of the story.)

By Lisa Carolin

At the Chelsea Senior Center’s Christmas luncheon, participants had the opportunity to purchase a memoir written by senior Virginia “Ginger” Ford, who attended the event with her husband, Eric.

Her book is titled Ginger Stands Her Ground: A Memoir of Faith, Family, and Polio and recounts her childhood in the Dexter area and the challenges she faced being victimized by paralytic polio.

“The title Ginger Stands Her Ground clearly hits the mark because it reflects what I had to do during the many road blocks I faced throughout my life in a challenged body,” said Ford, who is now 71. “The first time I used that phrase was when I turned 5 years old in the spring of 1951 when my dad pulled up in front of the hospital (at the University of Michigan) to take me home after my six months of rehabilitation. I refused the wheelchair and walked to the car in two full length braces with crutches.”

“Standing Her Ground” became Ford’s lifelong mantra. As a preteen, she longed to read about other victims of polio, but there were few books on the topic. That’s when she decided that she would someday write a book of her own.

Ford, whose maiden name was Visel, was the middle child of 11 children and was raised in a very close family with her grandmother residing next door. She loved her upbringing in the countryside two miles outside of Dexter and fondly remembers swimming in the Huron River and Silver Lake.

Courtesy photo. Virginia Ford and her husband, Eric.

Despite being forced to spend a lot of time as a child in the University of Michigan Hospital, she is grateful that it was so close to home.

“My mom was my mainstay and able to visit about once every two weeks when I was hospitalized, and my dad always reassured me and worked just down the street,” said Ford. “It was a major blessing keeping my 3-month check-up times by not having to travel far distances from faraway places in Michigan or from out of state like other patients we met, and being close to the hospital meant repairs on my leg braces and other assisted devices could be easily maintained.”

Ford, who spent most of her career as an elementary school teacher in the Dexter school district, is pleased that Ginger Stands Her Ground, which is published by Fifth Avenue Press (the Ann Arbor District Library), is now available for people to learn her story.

“After some 30 years of teaching early elementary classes in the Dexter Community Schools, retirement afforded me the time and desire to write this book, which I have carried in my heart all of these years,” she said.

Ford says her family has had nothing but positive feedback about the book and that has strengthened their bonds to one another.

“It’s important for people to know my story because, thankfully, we can see how very far we’ve come in the medical field,” said Ford. “Polio refined and defined physical therapy techniques and rehabilitation treatments. Look where we’ve come with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and understanding the need for handicapped parking, curb cuts, and finding solutions to solve the many complexities the disabled and our aging population face.”

The book can be purchased from Amazon in either kindle or paperback. Just type “Ginger Stands Her Ground” and Virginia Ford in the search area.

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