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Rotary raises money for battle with polio

This past Thursday was World Polio Day, a day for members of the Rotary International organization to rally the world around their work to “eradicate” the disease forever.

Poliomyelitis, or polio as it is commonly known, is a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in parts of the world. Poliovirus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in hours. It can strike people of any age, but mainly affects children under the age of five.

Polio can be prevented by vaccines, but it is not curable.

For more than 30 years, Rotary and its partners have driven the effort to eliminate polio worldwide. Their program was the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication by vaccinating children on a massive scale.

Rotary focuses on advocacy, fundraising volunteer recruitment and awareness-building. With their partners, they have found ways to reduce polio cases by 99.9% from 350,000 cases in 125 countries in 1988 to just 33 cases in 2018 with only Afghanistan and Pakistan reporting cases.

Over 1 million Rotary members have donated their time and money to help with the battle against polio. Every year, hundreds of members give their time to help vaccinate children in countries affected by the disease.

Rotary members have also contributed $1.9 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries from polio. Their advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by governments to contribute more than $8 billion to the effort.

By pledging to raise $50 million per year to battle polio, Rotary knows they have taken a huge leap that is not easy to do. However, with a promise by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of a 2-to-1 match for dollars raised, that number is within reach.

If you are interested in donating, go to endpolio.org/donate.

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