Robbie Page was only 5 years old when he contracted polio and died suddenly in 1951. At the time, Robbie’s mother was the fourth Sigma Sigma Sigma (Tri Sigma) National president, Mary Hastings Holloway Page.
Prior to contracting the disease, for which there was no cure yet, young Robbie dreamed of one day helping children and has been quoted, “I want to have all my birthdays right now so I can grow up and help people.”
While Robbie Page would never grow up, his dream of helping children would not die with him. A memorial was established in Robbie’s name, and in 1954 the Robbie Page Memorial Fund was recognized as the official philanthropy of Tri Sigma. The Robbie Page Memorial Fund helped fund research in vaccines for polio, including the Jonas Salk injectable vaccine trials.
In 1955 when the Salk vaccine was approved for nationwide immunization, the Robbie Page Memorial Fund continued to help children through the funding of therapeutic play. This therapy is regarded as fundamental in helping to meet the needs of children who may suffer an illness or require long-term hospitalization.
According to Medical News Today, therapeutic play has been instrumental in helping therapists work with children through the means of observing them play. At times, children will communicate through the act of playing without realizing they’re doing so. Play Therapy International records that nearly 71% of children who experience therapeutic play will show positive results.
On Thursday Sept. 14, 2023 the Slippery Rock University (SRU) Tri Sigma Sorority continued the tradition of raising funds for the Robbie Page Memorial Fund, selling root beer floats outside the Robert M. Smith Student Center.
Mia Scalamonga, foundation chair of the Slippery Rock Tri Sigma chapter, explained that the Slippery Rock chapter has raised money for the Robert Page Memorial over the years, while also raising funds for the March of Dimes.
Scalamonga explained, “We didn’t do this event [root beer float sale] last year, but we raised somewhere around nine-hundred dollars, and that also went to the Robbie Page Memorial as well as March of Dimes.”
In the 69 years since the establishment of the fund, more than $2 million in grants have operated through the Tri Sigma Foundation.
At the age of five, Robbie Page dreamed of growing up to help children, and though he may have lost his life at a young age, Robbie Page has gone on to help children more than he will ever know. Through the efforts of those like the SRU Tri Sigma chapter, Robbie Page will continue to help children nearly 100 years since his death.