Most of us go through life trying our best to do the right thing. It’s one thing to dream about making a big impact on this world, or even to advocate for issues we’re passionate about. It’s quite another to dedicate half a decade towards saving lives.
Every Child By Two co-founder Betty Bumpers has dedicated her life to children’s health and world peace. She has spent a lifetime inspiring others in her state, our nation and throughout the world.
That’s why we’re so proud that she has been inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame for dedicating her life to issues affecting children’s health, empowering women, and the cause of world peace. Betty was surrounded by her family and friends last week at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas where she received her award.
As a former art teacher, educated at Iowa State, the University of Arkansas, and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Betty is also a mother of three and the grandmother of seven. But what people admire about Betty is that when she sees a need for something to be done, she commits herself to fulfilling it.
Shortly after she became the First Lady of Arkansas, Betty grew concerned that the state of Arkansas had one of the lowest immunization rates in the nation.
Betty Bumpers attended the induction ceremony surrounded by her children, grandchildren, cousins and friends.
To help address the problem she spearhead a statewide immunization program for childhood vaccinations that brought together the Arkansas League for Nursing, the State Health Department, the Arkansas National Guard, the State Nurses Association, the State Medical Society, the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Arkansas, faith-based organizations, and other volunteers. Her leadership and initiative helped make this project model so successful that eventually the state achieved one of the highest immunization rates in the country, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began using her model for immunization programs across America.
But Betty didn’t stop there.
With the progress made in Arkansas, Betty decided it was time to work on other states throughout the nation. So, when Jimmy Carter became President, Mrs. Bumpers reached out to First Lady Rosalynn Carter (a fellow former governor’s spouse) who helped articulate to the President the deficits in the country’s immunization program, urging him to work to improve the situation. At that time, only 17 states in the country required immunizations by school age. That’s when Betty joined forces with Rosalynn Carter to lead the first federal initiative in comprehensive childhood immunization.
Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala said,
“from Arkansas to Washington, DC, to the far corners of the globe, Betty has been a guardian of children, protecting them from polio, from rubella and from many other invisible enemies.”
Betty did not just limit her endeavors to children’s health, but also pursued efforts to create a lasting peace in a time of turmoil.
In 1982, Mrs. Bumpers, concerned about the growing nuclear arms race, formed Peace Links to “effect a mind shift in the way people think” about peace and nuclear war. For twenty years Peace Links, which encompassed over 200 gubernatorial and congressional women and global women leaders, worked to educate communities about a new concept of national security, the value of cultural diversity, non-violent conflict resolution, global cooperation, citizen diplomacy, violence prevention and peace building. Through the National Peace Foundation, she continues to draw the world together into a unified community dedicated to peace.
It’s inspiring to know that each of the twelve women that have been inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame have made a significant and enduring impact on the lives of others in Arkansas, in the United States and throughout the world. We are grateful that the legacy of these great women is being shared and honored.
At Every Child By Two, we will continue to work towards our mission of timely vaccinations for all children so that we may preserve the great accomplishments of our cofounder Betty Bumpers. Her leadership and achievements continue to serve as an inspiration to us each and every day.