Above / Members of the Rotary Club of Naperville-Downtown recently visited Rotary International where a sculpture depicts the vision of PolioPlus, symbolizing Rotary’s commitment to eradicate polio, making the world a healthier place for millions of children. (PN Photo)

How close are we to a polio-free world?

“This close,” according to the gesture used by some 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide, all aimed at eradicating the crippling disease.  And this week Rotarians in 200 countries are preparing to heighten awareness on the third annual World Polio Day, Oct. 23, 2015.

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Above / During a visit to Rotary International to help heighten awareness about PolioPlus, Rotarians said they’re “this close” to ending polio in the world. (PN Photo)

More than ever, Rotarians volunteer and raise funds to emphasize the importance of finishing the job they started in 1985 to make the world polio-free and a healthier place for millions of children.

To that end, members of the Rotary Club of Naperville / Downtown created a World Polio event on the day before World Polio Day. Several club members — Community Service Director Pat Benton, Past President and District 6450 Grants Committee Chairman Chuck Corrigan, President Mike Reilly, President-Elect Naish Shah, Past President Stephanie Penick and Secretary Vasavi Chakka— took a quick trip to visit Rotary International in Evanston on Thurs., Oct. 22, to present a $3,500 gift in support of End Polio Now.

Click any photo to enlarge. Use the arrow to advance. (PN Photos, Oct. 22, 2015) 

During the check passing to PolioPlus Director Carol Pandak, members were reminded that their gift would be matched three times by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, increasing the amount to $10,500.

When considering that each dose of the vaccine to prevent a youngster from contracting the crippling virus is 60 cents, the donation covers the cost 17,500 doses. No matter how large or small the gift, every dollar triples, thanks to the matching grants.

“We greatly appreciate your work in keeping polio eradication at the forefront,” said Pandak during the photo opportunity at Rotary International.  “Thank you for all that you do.”

The only way the world can rid the Earth of polio is to reduce the number of cases to none. Just as smallpox, the way to end the devastating disease is through a global immunization campaign.

Never before in the history of polio have so few children in so few countries contracted the crippling virus. Yet all the partners in the initiative to eradicate polio cannot rest until the number of cases is zero, UNICEF noted in a news release on the eve of World Polio Day. This year, only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have reported polio cases caused by the wild poliovirus.

World Polio Day Livestream Event

The public is welcome to join the Rotary presentation by tuning in for a Livestream event from New York City at 5:30PM, Fri., Oct. 23. Viewers will receive the global status update on the fight to end polio.

Time Magazine Senior Editor Jeffrey Kluger will serve as moderator and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake will give the keynote address.

The webcast features appearances by Emmy Award-winner Archie Panjabi, Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo, actress Kristen Bell, WWE Superstar John Cena, The Doctors co-host Dr. Jennifer Berman, health professionals, partners and other special guests.

Mindful that no child ever should suffer from a completely preventable disease, Rotarians in more than 33,000 clubs around the world are focused on eradication.

Rotary Club of Naperville / Downtown, aka 4:44

The Rotary Club of Naperville / Downtown, one of three Rotary Clubs of Naperville, is comprised of 20-plus members. The club meets at 4:44PM on Wednesdays at Hugo’s Frog Pond in Main Street Promenade. Guests always are welcome to regular meetings.

The funds for End Polio Now were raised during the 2015 Rotary Ride in August. Other beneficiaries from the family-friendly bike ride are Naperville CARES and Naperville Responds for Our Veterans. The presentations of those checks, each $3,500, will be made on Wed., Nov. 11, a special meeting when sponsors of 2015 Rotary Ride will be recognized.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Naperville/Downtown and upcoming programs, visit www.rcndowntown.com.

‘Miles to End Polio’ is Nov. 21, 2015

For more information about upcoming fundraising initiatives for End Polio Now such as Miles to End Polio (104-mile Tour de Tucson in Arizona on Nov. 21, 2015), visit the Rotary International website.

The Rotary Club of Naperville / Downtown again is helping to sponsor Naperville resident Naish Shah in the Miles to End Polio ride where he will participate with the Rotary International cycling team, now in training. Rotary clubs throughout Chicagoland are coming together raise money for polio eradication via Miles to End Polio.

UPDATE Nov. 10, 2015 Courtesy Rotary International / Every November, Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko (an avid cyclist) invites members of his staff to complete one of the nation’s leading annual cycling events, El Tour de Tucson, and raise funds for polio eradication, Rotary’s flagship cause. Rotary is one of the biggest fundraisers of the ride and we bill our participation as “Miles to End Polio.”

In 2014, Hewko, his staff, and Rotary Club members worldwide raised more than $7 million for the global eradication of polio (this includes a 2 to 1 match from our partners at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). This year the goal is to raise $10 million for polio eradication.