The Toledo-based Medical Mission Hall of Fame, which will induct six new members tonight, seeks to achieve two goals simultaneously:
•To honor people who go to extraordinary lengths to provide medical care to underprivileged people around the world.
•To inspire others to get involved in medical missions.
Inductees honored since the hall was founded in 2004 are featured in elegant aluminum and marble plaques hanging in a lobby at the University of Toledo Health Science Campus, but the hall of fame is more global than local in its scope and purpose, according to its president, Larry Conway.
"This is not a Toledo operation. This is an international organization designed to recognize those individuals who have made a substantial contribution to improving the quality of life of our brothers and sisters throughout the world," said Mr. Conway, a professor emeritus of finance at the University of Toledo.
The hall's advisory board and board of trustees set high standards for admission when the first class of inductees consisted of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the renowned Nobel Prize-winning medical missionary known for his work in Africa, and Dr. William Magee and Kathleen Magee, founders of Operation Smile.
In 2006 the Medical Mission Hall of Fame became affiliated with the University of Toledo College of Medicine and made a $500,000 bequest to the medical school to support medical missions of students and faculty.
The 17 past inductees include physicians, dentists, nurses, and others who have helped facilitate health care for the needy.
Tonight's fifth class of inductees includes four physicians: Dr. Nathan Barlow, director of the Mossy Foot Project in Ethiopia who died in 2004 at age 91; Dr. Peter Hotez of the Sabin Vaccine Institute at George Washington University in Washington; Dr. Editha Canete-Miguel, founder of the Agape Rural Program in her native Philippines, and Dr. Victor Rambo, ophthalmologist and missionary to India who died in 1987.
Two non-medical inductees being honored tonight are U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) for her support of the Medical Mission Hall of Fame, and John Bul Dau, who helped found and develop a number of programs in his native Sudan including the Sudanese Lost Boys Foundation.
In addition to heading up the hall of fame, Mr. Conway is president of the Diller Foundation, a Toledo-based organization that helps to facilitate medical missions in the United States and around the world.
"In order to do a medical mission you have to have the personnel, you have to have the equipment, and you have to have the medicine. The Diller Foundation facilitates all three," Mr. Conway said.
"In addition, we make medical and hospital equipment available at no cost to anyone who wants to do medical missions - to anyone, I say. We're not religious-based, we're not political-based, we're not ethnic-based," he said.
The Diller Foundation has shipped hundreds of tons of medical and other equipment to such distant locales as Malawi, Vietnam, Honduras, and Ukraine.
The foundation was started by Dr. James Diller, a Toledo reconstructive surgeon who had conducted numerous medical mission trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic and wanted to create a foundation that would "remove the obstacles" for people who wanted to provide health care in the Third World, Mr. Conway said.
The Medical Mission Hall of Fame was a separate but related effort that dovetailed perfectly with the Diller Foundation's mission, he said.
"A large number of people are familiar with the Football Hall of Fame, the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Baseball Hall of Fame, but never in the history of the world have we had a hall of fame for medical missionaries. Until now," Mr. Conway said.
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