By Bonnie Branciaroli
Mountain State Rotary E-Club President & District 7545 Public Image Co-Chair
LET’S END POLIO NOW
July is also the time to ask yourself and your club, “So what do you want to do to help meet RI and Zone 33 Foundation challenges when it comes to Polio Plus giving?”
Rotary has been engaged in the worldwide fight against polio since 1985 when the organization launched the Polio Plus program. Polio Plus was the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication through the mass vaccination of children.
To most Americans today, polio (Poliomyelitis), a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours, is not considered a health threat. With the widespread use of the Salk and Sabin vaccines, polio was eliminated in the United States in 1979.
Also, in 1979 Rotary members and delegates of the Philippine Ministry of Health looked on as volunteers administered drops of the oral polio vaccine to children in the Manila barrio of Guadalupe Viejo.
When James L. Bomar Jr., then Rotary president, put the first drops of the Sabin vaccine into a child’s mouth, he ceremonially launched the Philippine poliomyelitis immunization effort. Bomar joined Enrique M. Garcia, the country’s minister of health, in signing the contract committing Rotary International and the government of the Philippines to a joint five-year effort to immunize around 6 million children against polio at a cost of about $760,000.
The Western Hemisphere reported its last case in Peru in 1991.
But this incurable disease still threatens children in some parts of the world. Today, there are only three countries that have never stopped the transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Cases due to wild poliovirus have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases then, to 33 reported cases in 2018. However, as long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease.
What We Can Do
What are our Goals?
After attending a Zone 33 District Leadership Training Seminar in Greensboro, NC this past spring, I brought back ideas to share with my club.
A 100% Sustaining Club
Why not start with a 100% Sustaining club? As a Sustaining member of the Rotary Foundation, a member donates $100 per year. That is $25 per quarter. If you think about it that is one meal at your favorite local restaurant.
If each member of your club donated $25 per quarter to the Rotary Foundation, that club would become a 100% Sustaining club.
If each club in our District (Total 55 clubs) were to be a 100% Sustaining club, that would bring much needed dollars into our Designated District funds that would allow for more District grants to be allocated to more community projects.
How to Donate
Once your MyRotary account is opened, it’s easy to donate through Rotary Direct, which can be found here: https://www.rotary.org/en/donate
Just follow the prompts.
If your goal includes working toward a Paul Harris Fellow, (donating $1,000.00 per year), Rotary Direct makes it easy. Just set up a reoccurring payment option and the amount you decide to donate will be taken from your credit card automatically every month. To reach Paul Harris status that reoccurring payment would be $84 per month.
Our E-Club and many other District 7545 clubs offer a donation option with each quarterly billing. This is a successful option to building the foundation to a 100 % sustaining club. If you don’t want to use Rotary Direct, just send your $25 payment with your dues.
Donation contributions are tracked through Rotary Club Central where both individuals and clubs are recognized.
A Giving and Fun Event
Many Rotary clubs add a fifth option to the Four-Way Test, and that is: Have Fun! What kind of event are you planning around World Polio Day that could spur Polio Plus giving?
Many of our District Governors have traveled abroad to be part of Immunization programs. Our current D7545 District Governor Shari Messinger sent this story to us to share with you. The story comes from an experience she had traveling to India in January 2018 for National Immunization Day.
Rotary’s 34-year fight against Polio has led, to some degree, to what District and Zone leaders call “Polio Fatigue”. Many clubs in the U. S. are growing weary and want to move on to more recent projects, but Shari’s story will bring into perspective how critical the Polio battle truly is.
“As a young woman I worked with a man who had contracted polio in high school. He was a robust athlete stricken to near death. Although difficult, he created a life for himself selling insurance and worked from his home because he was confined to a wheelchair. He died much too soon from complications of Polio.
Given the opportunity to go to India and participate in a National Immunization Day was a long-time goal of mine. Having seen my friend struggle in his life did not prepare me for the devastating effects Polio truly has.
I’ll never forget stepping off the bus in January 2018 and the first person I see is moving about with sandals protecting his hands from the ground. I was speechless, even a bit frightened. I’m not sure if it was fear or just shock. We were told not to give him money because the money would be taken away from him by his owner, or he would be robbed.
Having no control over my emotions, feeling helpless to comfort this young man was something I definitely was not prepared for.As we visited the World Health Organization and UNICEF, I began to understand what was being done and how this enormous task is implemented to eradicate this horrid disease. After our education, we were taken out to locations with the healthcare worker to give the life saving drops.
Motorcycles drove up with their children, buses stopped; children ran door-to-door gathering their friends to receive drops. They knew the drops would keep them healthy and gladly took them.
I know I didn’t do much, but I did make a small difference. I now know the importance of funding our Polio initiative. I know now, without a doubt, these healthcare workers know how to find ever child in every corner of our world.
More Info on Polio
Team Rotary RAAMs polio wins 2019 Race Across America and
Raises $1,263,223 to Immunize 2,105,372 Children Worldwide
July 19, 2019 – Team Rotary RAAMs Polio is a 4-person cycling team that has been participating in the Race Across America to raise funds to help eradicate polio worldwide. This year they went into the race with hopes of raising $1.2 million and exceeded their goal – raising $1,263,223 – enough money to immunize 2,105,372 children against Polio!
Representing the three countries of Austria, Italy and the United States, Rotarian cyclists Ruth Brandstaetter, Markus Mayr, Kurt Matzler, and Bob McKenzie broke their 2018 winning record in their category this year by 3 hours and 58 minutes. They made the trek in 6 days, 14 hours and 6 minutes.
To learn more about the team, read the article in April 2018 issue of Rotarian Magazine.