For the past five years, Rotary members around Tucson, Arizona, USA, have bicycled as many as 111 miles in a day to raise money for polio eradication. This year’s team of 70 cyclists and their supporters raised $730,000 in the Ride to End Polio, which, after matched two-to-one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will make $2.1 million available for polio eradication.
“With every penny going to end polio, we’ve immunized an awful lot of kids against this horrible disease,” says Gary Hirsch, a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson and a ride organizer.
The Ride to End Polio is part of the annual El Tour de Tucson bike event. This year’s ride, which took place 23 November, was dedicated to Rotary General Secretary John Hewko, who once again participated. The honor was given in recognition of his contributions to the bicycling community and the global eradication of polio. Hewko has raised more money than any other rider in a single El Tour event: over $243,000 in 2012.
“It was an incredible honor to accept the 2013 Dedication Award on behalf of Rotary and friends of Rotary -- including our fine staff at the Secretariat -- who supported the effort this year and also in 2012,” Hewko says. “And I can’t thank Rotary members in Arizona enough for inviting me to participate in their Ride to End Polio.”