At the Rotary International Convention thirty years ago, 1985, RI adopted a new challenge that seem unrealistic at the time. Rotarians were challenged to begin a journey to eradicate Polio from the face of the earth. Polio was a much dreaded disease at the time, leaving many people in our world, especially children, permanently crippled or worse. The theme slogan, END POLIO NOW, has been a constant part of Rotary life ever sense. Rotarians accepted this challenge in 1985 and today, thirty years later, we can actually see the end of Polio in sight. According to recent reports from RI, there are only 36 active cases of Polio in the world today and they are in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
For years, now, as we have neared this goal of a Polio free world, we have been reminded by popular stars, politicians, ordinary people and a host of others that “We are this close…” to meeting our goal. While this seems like a small goal in the remainder to a thirty year crusade, it really is not quite so simple. Even if all current cases of Polio in these two areas were to be conquered, such areas must remain Polio Free for three years in a row to earn a clear certificate.
World Polio Day this year, then, has much for us to celebrate. We will celebrate being “this close…” to eradicating a medical enemy that has crippled hundreds of thousands. But we will also want to celebrate the lives of many volunteers who unfortunately lost their lives during this multi-year crusade. They were murdered by people who sought to side-track this mighty effort.
To celebrate this year, join Durham Rotary Club in a walk around Duke’s East Campus on October 24. Our club has invited clubs from other parts of the world with whom we have partnered in many RI projects to join us on this walk. Wear your End Polio Now pin as a reminder to others. Purchase and give a pin to a friend and encourage her/him to also wear it. And consider making a gift. “We are this close…”, but we are not there yet. We still need your financial involvement.
Hope to see you on the walk on October 24 at East Campus.
Dallas Stallings – Foundation Chair