Rotarians active in supporting polio eradication on World Polio Day
Barbara Groth, governor of District 1940 (standing, far right), Rotarians, and friends welcome the End Polio Now locomotive to Hamburg, Germany, on 26 October, at the start of its nationwide 12-month tour.
R otarians worldwide celebrated and took action to mark World Polio Day on 24 October.
In Germany, Rotarians partnered with the Deutsche Bahn railway to emblazon a locomotive with the Rotary International gearwheel, the End Polio Now logo, and the slogan, “We have almost made it. Get on board for a world without polio.”
The locomotive will move trains through Germany’s major cities for the next 12 months. During that time, “Rotary clubs are to prepare for their own events to go to the public and present Rotary, focusing on its long-standing corporate project,” says Matthias Schütt, a member of the Rotary Club of Ratzeburg-Alte Salzstrasse. “A nationwide Rotary Day is scheduled for 4 May.”
In Mauritius, Rotarians raised funds for PolioPlus, organized an End Polio Now regatta, arranged screenings of the documentary The Final Inch , and sponsored a local version of the International Great Waiters Race, with participants sporting End Polio Now T-shirts.
The Rotaract Club of Diamond Valley, Victoria, Australia, organized a gathering at the Parliament House in Canberra of delegates from the Australian Rotaract Conference, Rotarians, Interactors, and others to promote the work of Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Many participants wore End Polio Now T-shirts, which were available for sale at the event.
Members of the Rotary Club of Three Rivers (Vereeniging), South Africa, made presentations at schools and to local government leaders about the need to eradicate polio.
In Switzerland, Espen Malmberg, manager of Foundation Services in the RI Europe and Africa Office, ran the Lucerne Marathon in blizzard conditions, raising US$1,023 for PolioPlus.
Worldwide, Rotarians and friends generously contributed more than US$310,000 to PolioPlus on World Polio Day. More than 1,500 people participated in the launch of the World‘s Biggest Commercial, an innovative online initiative promoting the global effort to eradicate polio. Nearly a half-million people also took part in a social media campaign to raise Rotary’s voice on World Polio Day by signing on to send a mass message through Twitter and Facebook.
Rotary's efforts to eradicate polio received major media coverage both on and around World Polio Day, including an opinion piece by RI General Secretary John Hewko and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, which appeared on The Blog at the Huffington Post.
Although polio has decreased by 99 percent since the GPEI began in 1988, “polio is not over,” emphasizes John H.G. Soe, a member of the Rotary Club of Jakarta Sentral, Indonesia. Soe says that he and millions of fellow polio survivors “want to stop the disease from threatening future lives,” and he urges people everywhere to “join the effort to end this disease once and for all.”