Rotarians have reason to celebrate as Rotary reaches 107 years
The Turku Cathedral in Finland is illuminated with an End Polio Now message on 2 February during a benefit concert. Rotary clubs around the world are lighting up iconic structures with the End Polio Now message the week of 23 February to celebrate Rotary's anniversary.
Rotarians have significant reasons to celebrate Rotary’s 107th anniversary on 23 February.
Major gains have been made in the fight to eradicate polio, Rotary’s top priority. In January, India reached a historic milestone by marking a full year without recording a new case of polio. The country has been an epicenter of the crippling childhood disease.
Worldwide, fewer than 650 polio cases were confirmed for 2011, less than half the 1,352 infections reported in 2010. Overall, the annual number of polio cases has plummeted by more than 99 percent since the initiative was launched in 1988, when polio infected about 350,000 children a year. More than 2 billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing 5 million cases of paralysis and 250,000 deaths.
Also in January, Rotary leaders announced that Rotary clubs raised more than US$200 million in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In recognition of Rotary’s commitment, the Gates Foundation contributed an additional $50 million. All of the resulting $605 million will be spent in support of immunization activities in polio-affected countries.
“We’ll celebrate this milestone, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll stop raising money or spreading the word about polio eradication,” Rotary Foundation Trustee John F. Germ told Rotary leaders at the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA. “We can’t stop until our entire world is certified as polio-free.”
End Polio Now lightings
In what has become a Rotary anniversary tradition, Rotary clubs around the world are illuminating iconic structures with the End Polio Now message.
This year, light displays center on Pakistan, where Rotary clubs will illuminate Frere Hall in Karachi and the WAPDA House in Lahore. Other lighting sites include the Tower of London; City Government Building in Taipei, Taiwan; Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, Tokyo’s fifth tallest building; Federation Square, one of southern Australia’s top tourist draws; and two famous landmarks in Brazil -- the historic Sitio Arqueológico de São Miguel das Missões in Rio Grande do Sul, and the Palácio Garibaldi, a neo-classical architectural treasure in Curitiba.
The lightings “carry Rotary’s pledge to end polio,” says RI President Kalyan Banerjee, a native of India. “But we are not there yet. Rotary and our partners will continue to immunize children until our goal of a polio-free world is achieved. ”
Chat about polio
A Twitter chat is planned for 24 February at 09:30 CST to discuss the success in India, challenges and next steps in the global fight to end polio, and how the public can become involved in supporting polio eradication. Participants will include representatives from Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Foundation. Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will lead and moderate the conversation. Follow hashtag #poliochat to participate.
What is your club doing for 23 February? Let us know in the comments section below. Also, consider marking Rotary's anniversary every year with a recurring gift to support Rotary’s humanitarian and educational activities.
Look for a gallery of End Polio Now lightings soon.
For more information: