Kentucky Rotarians raise $142,000 for polio eradication
Top: District Governor Robert Ryan (right) presents RI President Ray Klinginsmith with a certificate during the World Equestrian Games. Photo courtesy District 6740
Bottom: Rotary volunteers worked a total of 2,829 eight-hour shifts at food and beverage stations during the games. Photo by Peggy Asseo
The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, in September marked the first time the games have been held in North America, and Kentucky Rotarians were there in force, spreading the news about Rotary's good works and raising money for polio eradication.
Rotarians from throughout the state, and some from other parts of the world, provided the main volunteer workforce for food and beverage stations throughout the Kentucky Horse Park, home of the 16-day competition considered the "Olympics" of the equestrian world.
Through an agreement with event concessionaire Buona Companies, 8 percent of the concession proceeds went to Rotary, allowing volunteers to raise $142,000 for Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge. Rotary volunteers worked a total of 2,829 eight-hour shifts, logging 22,632 volunteer hours.
"The event provided tremendous Rotary exposure," says Robert Ryan, governor of Rotary International District 6740 and a member of the Rotary Club of Lexington. "We helped welcome the world to the games."
The World Equestrian Games are held every four years and this year featured athletes and horses from more than 50 countries competing for world championships in eight equestrian disciplines. More than 500,000 people attended the games, which were broadcast on NBC sports and internationally through the European Broadcast Union.
Rotarians also staffed a booth in the trade show area, handing out literature and copies of a poster of Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel, a participant in Rotary's "This Close" polio eradication public awareness campaign. Volunteers gave out souvenir pins featuring the Equestrian Games and End Polio Now logos in exchange for a $5 donation to polio eradication.
“We were very busy the entire time, but it wasn’t a burden,” says Sara Callaway, a member of the Rotary Club of Frankfort. “I like to do volunteer work for things I believe in.”
"Clubs were encouraged to use the event as a club project to meet their $2,000 annual goal for Rotary's challenge," Ryan says, noting that Rotarians received credit for their club for each shift they worked or recruited friends or family to work. Individual Rotarians earned Foundation recognition points.
"I heard from one Rotarian volunteer that by taking part and meeting other Rotarians from all over the country and world, he felt very comfortable going to and visiting other Rotary clubs where he hadn't before," Ryan says. "This event helped break down barriers within Rotary."
RI President Ray Klinginsmith and his wife, Judie, attended the opening ceremonies of the games, helping kick off the volunteer effort. John Germ, Rotary Foundation trustee vice chair, and his wife, Judy, worked several volunteer shifts. Ryan's aide, Dean Hammond, coordinated the volunteer pool, while Past District Governor Tom Ashford also provided support.
Local Rotarians opened their homes to Rotarians who traveled from other areas to volunteer.
The Lexington Rotary club plans to raise additional funds for polio eradication by auctioning off several items, including a basketball signed by Klinginsmith and University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, fliers autographed by Borel, and several commemorative baseball caps signed by Calipari.