When I was a kid, my mom had a friend named Helen, who walked with a metal crutch that had a band circling her arm. Her legs were strangely bent, she had two young children, and my Mom took Helen on all sorts of errands, because Helen couldn’t drive. In fact, there was a lot that Helen couldn’t do. It was the first I knew of polio.
This Friday, October 24, is World Polio Day. We all know about the devastating impact of polio in faraway places, but most of us don’t think about how close to home polio has been.
Sixty years ago, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the US. Summer was “polio season,” and public pools were shut down. Movie theatres urged people not to sit too close. Insurance companies sold polio insurance for newborns, and hospitals set up special iron lung units. In 1952 alone, nearly 60,000 children were infected in the US, thousands were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died.
Thanks to the efforts of Rotary and our partners, the world is now 99% polio free, but the remaining 1% of cases are the most challenging because they exist in the world’s hardest-to-reach areas in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. On Friday, our club will join Rotarians around the world in commemoration of World Polio Day.
Rotaract has generously agreed to earmark this Friday’s Queen of Hearts proceeds to support World Polio Day, with the remaining 50% going to the winning raffle ticket holder. The Gates Foundation is matching two-to-one every Rotary dollar contributed through 2018, and the Queen of Hearts pot is now approaching $8000, so now is the perfect time to open your wallet to support ending polio throughout the world--for good.
For more information about Rotary’s polio eradication effort, or to view a live-streamed global event at 5:30 pm on Friday, October 24, go to http://www.endpolio.org/. If you’d like to share any comments about this or any other topic, please send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.