A milestone was reached last week… a very important one for mankind. India has gone one year without recording a new case of polio, a crippling and sometimes fatal disease. As a Rotary club member, this makes me very proud. For those that don’t know, Rotary International has been leading the way to eradicate polio in the world. With the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary has raised over one billion dollars towards this effort. The World Health Organization and UNICEF are also active partners in the fight.
Locally there are several members of Rotary who have not only raised money for this fight but have also participated in immunizations abroad.
The Rotary Club of Invermere recently held a luau dinner, dance and fundraiser where all the funds raised went to the Polio Plus Fund. The more than $8,000 raised really moved the club higher in the district fundraising rankings against some much bigger clubs. But will we stop here? I think not.
Although no new cases have been diagnosed in India since January 13, 2011, immunizations can’t stop due to the very real danger of an imported case coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Nigeria (PAN), the other three countries of the world classified as polio-endemic. There were 189 cases reported in neighbouring Pakistan in 2011 and it’s believed that the single case diagnosed in China in recent years came from there.
All Rotarians in District 5080 are being asked to participate in the Rotary 5080 Run/Walk Plus event. We’ll record our steps/kms and make pledges based on the distances covered between now and May 29, 2012. Our pledge will be “Cure Polio One Step at a Time.”
If you are asked to pledge, please be generous. Your dollar could make the difference between another case of polio or the eradication of this horrible disease. If you are not asked and wish to contribute, please contact me and I’ll happily put you in touch with a participant.
Marilyn Berry is publisher of The Valley Echo