Rotary Club of Crowley fights to end polio worldwide

Today, Oct. 24, is World Polio Day

In honor of World Polio Day, which is widely recognized today, Oct. 24, the Rotary Club of Crowley is continuing its efforts to raise funds as part of Rotary’s 27-year mission to eradicate the crippling childhood disease polio.

Over the past 36 months, Rotary Club of Crowley has raised over $16,000, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Thomas “Bo” McNeeley and donations of members and others in our community. The Club continues to solicit contributions as it joins in the commitment to eliminate polio worldwide. 

On World Polio Day, Rotary International is launching the “World’s Biggest Commercial”, an innovative, interactive campaign at endpolionow.org, that gives everyone a chance to join Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Gates, Jackie Chan, Amanda Peet and other world figures and celebrities already participating in Rotary’s “This Close” campaign (as in, “this close” to ending polio) in raising awareness and support for polio eradication.

Also on World Polio Day, Rotary will make available for purchase “End Polio Now,” an eclectic album of songs performed by its celebrity polio eradication ambassadors from the music industry, including polio survivors Itzhak Perlman (classical violin); Donovan (folk rock); and Staff Benda Bilili (Congolese soukous). The album will be available via iTunes and at shop.rotary.org.

World Polio Day follows a succession of significant developments that have made 2012 one of the most important years in the history of the polio eradication initiative. In January, Rotary announced it had raised more than $200 million in new money for polio eradication called for in a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation. The total is now $228 million and growing. In recognition of Rotary’s effort, the Gates Foundation added another $50 million, a total funding package of more than $605 million.

In February, India was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries. Many health experts expected India to be polio’s final stronghold, so the country’s polio-free designation after a full year of no new cases represents a major milestone. In May, the World Health Assembly declared polio eradication to be a “programmatic emergency for global public health,” in recognition of the dichotomy posed by the increased risk of failure due to the funding gap, opposite the significant progress represented by the reduction in cases and polio’s shrinking geographical presence.

The message to world leaders is clear: support the final push to achieve eradication now while the goal has never been closer, or face the potential consequences of a new polio pandemic that could disable millions of children within a decade.

Since 1985, Rotary has contributed nearly $1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries. The disease remains endemic in three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan – although other countries remain at risk for imported cases.

“Many of us remember when polio vaccinations were routine because this terrible disease was prevalent everywhere. We’re this close to eradicating it from the globe, and consequently we feel so passionate about this effort,” stated Rotary Club of Crowley Club President Scott Schumacher.

A highly infectious disease, polio causes paralysis and is sometimes fatal. As there is no cure, the best protection is prevention. For as little as 60 cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life. After an international investment of more than $9 billion, and the successful engagement of over 200 countries and 20 million volunteers, polio could be the first human disease of the 21st century to be eradicated.

Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service.

The Rotary Club of Crowley, is one of the largest clubs in the club district with over 80 members. It has a long history of supporting local and national projects to improve life in the community and the world. Contributions to the polio eradication campaign can be made to Rotary Club of Crowley, P.O. Box 14, Crowley, LA, 70527.

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