Rotary Club acts to eradicate polio

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By Ted Pennekamp

 

Rotary Club members in Prairie du Chien are taking action on World Polio Day (Oct. 24) to raise awareness, funds, and support to end polio, a vaccine-preventable disease that still threatens children in parts of the world today.

Each year on this day, thousands of Rotary clubs around the world hold events and fundraisers to recognize progress in the global fight to end polio.  

This year, the local club has a fundraiser of selling raffle tickets to raise money, said Jamie Stram of the Prairie du Chien Rotary Club. Stram said prizes include a kayak, $500, $250 and $100. 

“We will also be planting purple crocuses at the Rotary Park to raise awareness,” said Stram. “Purple dye is usually put on a child’s finger after they receive the polio vaccination so it is clear they received the lifesaving vaccine.”

Cheryl Mader of the Prairie du Chien Rotary Club said members will plant hundreds of purple crocuses beginning at 5 p.m. on Oct. 24. The purple crocus is the international symbol of the End Polio Now movement.

“Members of the public are invited to join us in this celebration of the work that has been done to bring us to the very edge of eradicating polio worldwide,” said Mader.

When Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative more than three decades ago, polio paralyzed 1,000 children every day. 

“We’ve made great progress against the disease since then,” said Mader. “Polio cases have dropped by 99.9 percent, from 350,000 cases in 1988 in 125 countries to 33 cases of wild poliovirus in 2018 in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. And, we remain committed to the end.”

With polio nearly eradicated, Rotary and its partners aim to sustain this progress to continue to reach every child with the polio vaccine. 

“Without full funding and political commitment, this paralyzing disease could return to polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk,” said Mader. “Rotary has committed to raising $50 million each year to support global polio eradication efforts. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to match that 2-to-1, for a total yearly contribution of $150 million.”

Mader, the Prairie du Chien Rotary Club’s Foundation Chair, said, “Our local club has contributed more than $125,000 to the more than $1.9 billion Rotary clubs around the world have contributed to ending polio since 1985. The Rotary Club of Prairie du Chien is currently conducting a fundraising effort to raise an additional $5,000 for this year’s effort.”

Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who unite and take action to create lasting change in communities around the globe. For more than 110 years, Rotary’s people of action have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to improve lives through service. From promoting literacy and peace to providing clean water and improving health care, Rotary members are always working to better the world. 

For more information, interested persons can visit endpolio.org to learn more about Rotary and the fight to eradicate polio.

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