Jenna Bush Hager is sharing her very personal connection to World Polio Day.
The former first daughter is working with UNICEF and Rotary International to bring awareness to the event in a new PSA. She also opened up to PEOPLE about her father-in-law John Hager’s father, who has been living in a wheelchair for 40 years after being diagnosed with the disease.
“We’re so close — we’re so close to eradicating polio, which is a major disease that has affected my family,” she said.
The mother of two elaborated:
My father-in-law, my husband’s dad, John Hager, has lived with polio for the last four decades. He’s been in a wheelchair for over 40 years. It’s strong, and like so many that face obstacles in their daily life, he’s overcome it in many ways. But at the same time, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects it has not only on the person but their families. And I just don’t want any child to face what he’s faced. So I’m really happy to be a part of this because now that I look at my little girls, everything is more meaningful — but I just can’t even imagine being a mom, hearing the news that your child is going to be living the devastating effects of polio.
As for what you can do to get involved, Bush Hager encouraged people to “get educated,” saying:
I know about polio because of my father-in-law, but since 1988, the number of polio cases has been reduced by 99 percent. I know so much about it, yet I didn’t necessarily know how close we are to eradicating it and just how important it is to really advocate to vaccinate your kids, to get the polio vaccine into areas everywhere.