Mayor Craig Cates, during Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, proclaimed October 24th as World Polio Day. Since 1985 Rotary International has spearheaded the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, immunizing the world against this deadly disease.
Sunrise Rotary President George Wallace accepted the proclamation on behalf, he said, of Key West’s three Rotary clubs. He said that the program has reduced the number of polio-endemic country from 125 to just three in the 30 years since its inception.
“There are 17.4 million healthy people in the world today who would have been paralyzed by polio but for the polio eradication program begun by Rotary,” he said.
He noted that every dollar contributed to Rotary for the Polio-Plus program is match three-to-one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Just today,” said Wallace, “through our Purple Pinkie program, we raised about $1395. Now that doesn’t seem like much, but when you add in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation money and you divide it by ten cents a child, we raised enough money in one day to immunize 55,800 children.”
To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.7 billion and countless volunteer hours to the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries. In 2017, 430 million children in 39 countries were immunized.
According to the proclamation, polio cases have dropped by 99.9 percent since 1988 and the world stands on the threshold of eradicating the disease.
Rotary International is the world’s first and one of the largest non-profit service organizations, with over 1.2 million Rotary club members comprised of professional and business leaders in over 35,000 clubs in 200 countries and geographic areas.
There are over 230 Rotary club members in three clubs in Key West, sponsoring service projects to address such critical issues as poverty, health, hunger, illiteracy, and the environment in their local communities, and abroad.
In the photo: Elizabeth MacLaughlin, City Manager Jim Scholl, Mayor Craig Cates, Mike Horne, Robin Robinson, Sunshine Rotary President George Wallace, Julie Wallace, Tim Dahms, German exchange students Karoline Lieske, Marty Hirsch, and Catherine Perry-Thibault.