Pennies for Polio pays big dividends for Rotary's challenge
Rotarians celebrate the success of Pennies for Polio at District 7120's annual conference. From left: 2008-09 District Governor Michael Leone, Past RI Director M.K. Panduranga Setty of India (representing 2008-09 RI President Dong Kurn Lee), and district PolioPlus committee cochairs Bob Goodman and Jerry Rose. Photo courtesy Michael Leone
To Michael Leone, 2008-09 governor of District 7120 (New York, USA), the idea of inviting children to help protect other children against polio made perfect sense.
So when Leone and Past District Governor Michael Popolizio went to work planning Pennies for Polio in support of Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge , they envisioned basing the fundraiser in the area's schools.
After receiving the support of the district Rotary Foundation committee and district advisory council, Leone presented Pennies for Polio to the club presidents in January through a letter, PolioPlus fact sheet, and PowerPoint presentation.
Fifty-eight Rotary clubs and 30 Interact clubs helped the project get underway in March and April by placing Pennies for Polio collection jars in schools throughout the district. School fundraisers lasted one to two weeks, with many featuring competitions among grade levels and a pizza party for the winning grade.
The Rotary Club of Honeoye Falls-Mendon produced a video about polio to show in local elementary schools and printouts for teachers to use with students in the classroom.
"The teachers used the project to teach children about world health issues and how polio once plagued the United States," says Honeoye Falls-Mendon club member Tracy Main. "To my amazement, the children raised over $5,000 in 10 days."
Pennies for Polio tallied more than $100,000 in all for Rotary's challenge.
"One of the most gratifying moments for me was to hear high school students educating their communities about the polio eradication effort and Rotary's work in this important task," Leone says.
"Ninety-nine percent of polio is already eradicated," said Jennifer Riekstins, a member of the Interact Club of Webster Schroeder High School, in a local TV news interview. "We're trying to eradicate the final 1 percent, and that's the most difficult, most expensive to do."
Added club president Carly Blake, "It makes us feel great that our community and our school are doing something to help other people in need."
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