Concert to End Polio a success
Violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman backstage before the Concert to End Polio, 2 December at New York City's Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
The Concert to End Polio, which brought together Rotarians and friends of Rotary on 2 December, raised more than $100,000 toward Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge .
Besides raising funds for polio eradication, the event helped increase awareness of the disease, which many people don't realize is still a threat to children in parts of the world.
The benefit concert featured violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, who played to a sold-out audience in New York City's Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Perlman received several standing ovations, and the concert received a positive review in the New York Times . Rotary International joined with Perlman and the world-renowned New York Philharmonic for the first time to present the event.
The polio eradication effort resonates strongly with Perlman, who contracted the disease at age four and overcame physical challenges to become one of the world's most celebrated musicians, winning 15 Grammy Awards as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
During a reception after the concert, Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Glenn E. Estess Sr. presented Perlman with an award for his help in fighting polio.
"There's no reason anyone should get this disease," said Perlman.
Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988.
Since then, the number of polio cases has been slashed by more than 99 percent, preventing five million cases of childhood paralysis and 250,000 deaths. However, the final 1 percent of cases are the most difficult and expensive to prevent. The wild poliovirus remains endemic in just four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
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