Rotarians tackle polio with Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the stadium before a game. Photo courtesy of David Faraldo.
On a sunny day in December, Rotarians in Florida, USA, kicked back at a National Football League game and raised more than $21,000 for polio eradication. At the same time, 60,000 fans saw an ad about Rotary and the End Polio Now campaign on the stadium’s JumboTron. It never hurts to know the team’s owners.
The partnership between District 6970 and the Jacksonville Jaguars dates back to 2004, when the district’s Rotarians were scouting out items for a sports-themed raffle. David Faraldo, who was then the district conference chair and is now district governor, met with the team’s owners, Wayne and Delores Weaver. They suggested a day with the Jaguars and offered to contribute $5 for each ticket sold if the district would match it.
The Jaguars beat the Chicago Bears that day and have since raised $100,000 for The Rotary Foundation and the End Polio Now campaign, sponsoring the event in December every year. In 2008, the Weavers became Major Donors to the Foundation.
This year, the Jaguars and District 6970 upped the ante: With NFL approval, Rotary clubs sold group tickets to additional games. “Our two main goals this year were to raise funds for polio eradication and to reach out to non-Rotarians,” Faraldo says. “With this effort, we accomplished both.” The idea is catching on. For the past two seasons, the Miami Dolphins and District 6990 (parts of Florida and the Bahamas) have held a fundraising game day.
The Jaguars have invited clubs in District 6970 to hold one of their meetings at the stadium, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour.
The partnership also helps the Jaguars, a team that started out as the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history – advancing to the playoffs four times in its first five seasons – but that has since struggled to achieve a .500 average. “Keeping the Jaguars in Jacksonville is important to our local economy,” Faraldo says. “No matter how the team is playing, we’ve always had good sales for the Rotary district game. It is really about friends getting together for a fun, and usually exciting, event.”
And in a stadium where the only frost is on a mug, he says, “there’s always plenty of beer.”
Tickets go on sale later this year. Learn more .