Purple Pinkie passion drives end-polio fundraisers
Purple Pinkie promoter Graham Hart (top). At bottom: Hart after his haircut and shave, performed by District Governor Ken Buck (standing, left). Photos courtesy of District 1240
Thousands of students, commuters, and shoppers joined Rotarians in Essex and Hertfordshire, England, to celebrate Purple Pinkie Week, 23 February-1 March. Rotary clubs in District 1240 sponsored a variety of fundraisers at schools, supermarkets, railway stations, and other venues in support of Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge.
Rotarians and officials launched the event -- named after the purple dye painted on a child's little finger to signify immunization against polio -- in Chelmsford, Essex, on 23 February, Rotary's 104th birthday. They were joined by Paralympian Anne Wafula-Strike, a wheelchair racer who contracted polio at age two in her native Kenya.
"It is very important that as many children as possible should be immunized to save them from this dreadful disease," said Wafula-Strike, who now lives in England, of the global effort to end polio.
The festive week featured town council dress-down days, community quiz nights, and other activities ranging from the musical to the tonsorial. A concert performed by the Southend Boys' and Girls' Choir in Southend on Sea, Essex, raised $2,150. Interactors and other students went to school decked out for Wear Something Purple days. Graham Hart, of the Rotary Club of Chelmsford Rivermead, had his hair and beard dyed purple at one shopping center, then showed up at another center to have them shaved off.
Rotarians throughout the district painted donors' pinkies purple in recognition of their support, which totaled about $28,600 for Rotary's challenge.
"We are so close to stamping out polio," said District Governor Ken Buck. "It is vital that we eradicate it now, as otherwise the likelihood is that the disease will spread again to the countries which have been cleared. With the public's help, we can achieve this goal."