The fight to eradicate polio got a major financial boost from the annual Miles to End Polio bike ride that took place 21 November in Arizona, USA. Rotary General Secretary John Hewko and a team of eight RI staff members helped raise $4.4 million. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match the funds 2-to-1, bringing the total contribution to PolioPlus to more than $13.5 million.
This is the fourth year in a row that Hewko has biked in the 104-mile (167 km) El Tour de Tucson ride, one of the country’s top cycling events. More than 100 Rotary members from Arizona and around the world hit the pavement with the Evanston team.
The RI staff riders have been training together since September. “In the beginning, riding 104 miles seemed impossible,” says Jean Stanula, Rotary’s Global Events supervisor. “But we came together early Saturday mornings and rode 20, 40, 60, and 80 miles. After a while, it felt like we could do anything.”
Contributions of District Designated Funds (DDFs) were a big part in this year's fundraising effort, with more than $1.4 million collected. Districts can continue to donate DDFs to support the fundraiser through 30 November. President-elect John Germ will visit the district that donates the most DDFs, and the top five contributing districts will be recognized onstage at the 2016 Rotary Convention in Seoul.
Rotary members have taken part in the ride since 2009, when the End Polio Now campaign was designated an official beneficiary of the race, allowing Rotary cyclists to gather pledges for the campaign. In the first year, 27 cyclists raised $35,000. The number has grown exponentially ever since.
Download the Miles to End Polio DDF contribution form