Rotarians go all out for polio eradication
Colleen Bonadonna administers the polio vaccine during a National Immunization Day in India.
Rotarians are continuing to find unique ways to raise money for Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge.
Christine Phelan, Holly Weber, and Alice Maliakkal at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Photo courtesy of Alice Maliakkal.
On 12 April, Colleen Bonadonna walked into the meeting of the Rotary Club of Dulles International Airport, Virginia, USA, completing a quest to visit 200 Rotary clubs in 200 days to raise awareness for Rotary’s challenge.
Her odyssey brought in more than $8,000 for the polio eradication effort.
A member of the Rotary Club of West Point, Virginia, Bonadonna says she was inspired by her participation in a February 2010 National Immunization Day in Dhanbad, India, coordinated by District 7730 (North Carolina).
"I thought, wouldn't it be cool to visit 200 clubs in 200 days," she recalls. "First and foremost, I wanted to share with clubs that we need to finish the job we started. And second, to remind each of the clubs that we are in this together."
She kicked off her adventure on 2 October with a visit to the Rotary Club of North Suffolk, Virginia. During each visit, Bonadonna asked the club to waive her meal fee, which she donated to PolioPlus. Clubs and districts made additional contributions, which are still being tabulated. Along the way, she posted pictures and wrote about each visit on her blog.
"During my journey, I had hoped to inspire other Rotarians to become involved with PolioPlus," she says. "But as I visited clubs, it was I who was inspired ‑- by the great works being completed by Rotarians around the globe."
Reaching the summit
Four members of the Rotary Club of Toronto Twilight, Ontario, Canada, found a more strenuous way to support the challenge.
Holly Weber, Christine Phelan, Mary Catherine Lill, and Alice Maliakkal spent six days in March hiking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and collected $8,500 to date for the polio eradication campaign from clubs before and after their trip.
"We are so close to finishing it. If we all work together, we will be able to eradicate polio." - Holly Weber
Rotary Club of Toronto Twilight
They trained for months, and spent vacation time and thousands of dollars arranging the trek through a guide service in Tanzania. The most difficult part of the climb came on day four, when the team started out at midnight and spent 15 hours hiking to the summit and back down to camp.
"We all made it to the summit and down OK," says Weber, a technical recruiter who is the club’s president. "It was phenomenal being at the highest point in Africa. I just kept envisioning myself at the top, and just kept going. I was determined to complete the goal we had set."
Before the climb, the women visited the Rotary Club of Moshi Kilema Kati, where they toured a primary school, hospital, HIV/AIDS clinic, and girls’ vocational school supported by international club service projects.
Weber says the blog the team created and her promotion of the fundraiser on social networks such as RI's LinkedIn group have helped build exposure for her young club, which received its charter in December 2009.
But the team members’ main objective was to do their part for Rotary's challenge.
"We are so close to finishing it," says Weber. "If we all work together, we will be able to eradicate polio."
Learn more about Rotary's effort to eradicate polio:
Read more about polio and what you can do to help.
Watch a video "The Last Hurdle" about Rotary's work to eradicate polio