Ride to End Polio raises more than US$375,000 for polio eradication
Rotarians, General Secretary John Hewko, and his wife, Marga, gather in downtown Tucson, Arizona, at 6 a.m. 17 November before the start of the race. This group was all signed up to ride the entire 111-mile route.
Ninety Rotarian cyclists from clubs throughout the United States took part in the El Tour de Tucson on 17 November in Arizona, raising more than US$375,000 for polio eradication.
RI General Secretary John Hewko and his wife, Marga, were among the Rotarians, friends of Rotary, and family members who hit the pavement along with 9,000 riders from around the world in the charity bike ride, sponsored by the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, completing distances of 42, 60, 85 or 111 miles. The Hewkos also exceeded their goal of $111,000 in pledges, raising more than $200,000 for the ride.
Rotarians have been taking part in the ride since 2009, when the End Polio Now campaign was designated an official beneficiary of the race, allowing Rotary to enroll cyclists to gather pledges for the campaign. In that first year, 27 cyclists raised $35,000. The number has grown steadily since.
This year’s festivities included a pre-ride dinner the night before. Rotarians also staffed a water station along the route, and a booth at the finish line where finishing cyclists could gather and learn more about Rotary and polio eradication.
Since 1985, Rotary and its global polio eradication partners have spearheaded the effort to rid the world of the crippling disease. Cases have dropped to an all-time low -- there were fewer than 200 worldwide in 2012 as of 31 October – and only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria remain polio-endemic.
But a $700 million funding shortfall for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative threatens to impede progress. Already the funding gap has curtailed scheduled immunization activities in polio-affected countries. If eradication fails and polio rebounds, up to 200,000 children per year could be paralyzed.
Rotary is ramping up its advocacy work in the 200 countries and regions where Rotary clubs exist to encourage every national government to commit to help meet the shortfall. Visitors to www.endpolionow.org can lend their voice to the advocacy efforts by signing a petition for world leaders. Supporters can also upload their photos to be part of the World’s Biggest Commercial, a new initiative to promote polio eradication launched on World Polio Day.
Learn how you can still contribute to the ride.
For more information on how to order the End Polio Now jerseys please contact Rotarian Gary Rumack.