Kids passionate about raising pennies to fight polio
Tyler Dorsey (right), chair of the Cleveland Better Home Town Junior Board, meets with secretary Lindsey Hutchinson (left) and treasurer Aida Alonso. Photo courtesy of Maria Jurado-Flynn
With the help of friends, 11-year-old Tyler Dorsey is collecting thousands of pennies to help in Rotary's effort to eradicate polio.
After Tyler heard about a man in Alabama, USA, who had cashed in 1.3 million pennies in 2005 for $13,000 in paper bills, he set out to surpass that feat and give the money to PolioPlus.
Though the children have not reached the million-penny mark yet, Tyler, Aida Alonso, Lindsey Hutchinson, and Connor Smith presented a check in February for $1,008.04 to Shane Burr, governor of District 6910 (Georgia), and Gary Moore, district PolioPlus subcommittee chair. They will turn another check over to the district after 30 June and plan on continuing to raise funds for polio eradication after that.
The foursome started collecting pennies in July in memory of Wilford Ash, a local educator who had contracted polio as a child. The friends, members of the Better Home Town Junior Board in Cleveland, Georgia, also plan on selling jigsaw puzzles with historic scenes of Cleveland and donating a portion of the proceeds to PolioPlus.
“I’ve just always wanted to help people,” says Tyler, who said he is excited the pennies are helping more than 1,000 children. It costs as little as 60 cents to protect a child against polio.
“Just thinking about people not being able to walk is a very sad situation,” says Aida.
To collect the pennies, the children distributed 20 jars and three plastic tubs among downtown businesses. The White County Fire Department donated a 5-gallon bucket of pennies, and White County Rotarians made contributions and picked up some of the containers.
Tyler learned about Rotary through Maria Jurado-Flynn, president of the Rotary Club of White County and executive director of Cleveland Better Home Town. Tyler’s father, a police officer, had introduced him to Jurado-Flynn after Tyler expressed an interest in historic preservation. In addition to revitalizing downtown, Cleveland Better Home Town organizes community events, so Jurado-Flynn asked Tyler, then age nine, to chair an autumn festival. He later received permission to create his own junior board and attended several Rotary club meetings.
On his own initiative, Tyler hosted a food drive last year that netted two truckloads of items and $1,800, including donations from Rotarians.
“He’s really fallen in love with what Rotary does, and I really think it’s helped shape who he is becoming,” says Jurado-Flynn. “It’s going to shape what these kids do for the rest of their lives.”
Learn more about Rotary's effort to eradicate polio:
Read more about polio and what you can do to help.
Watch a video about Rotary's progress in meeting the US$200 Million Challenge