When Rotarians in the Philippines started a campaign to end polio in the mid 1980s, 350,000 children worldwide were affected every year. The crippling disease terrorized parents in Canada in the early 1950s, but it was eventually eradicated in many countries and continents. Only three countries are left where the wild polio virus remains: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Members of Rotary Club of Powell River will host a Purple 4 Polio fundraising dinner on Tuesday, November 28. The guest speaker is New Westminster Rotarian Gabor Gasztonyi, a polio survivor now working on a global grant to provide physiotherapy services for children with polio at two Ethiopian rehabilitation hospitals.
Last year, Gasztonyi won the Rotary International photographic contest in two categories about children in Ethiopia.
“When a disabled child is kept indoors and hidden from others, as happens in many African countries, including Ethiopia, they soon learn that they are underprivileged and they are not complete human beings,” says Gasztonyi. “Children are our hope for the future. I hope every child has access to education, rehabilitation and an accessible environment free from barriers and obstacles preventing them from being equal to other children.”
Every dollar raised by Rotarians around the world since 2013 has been matched two to one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Members of the world’s oldest service organization have raised $1.4 billion.
Millions of children are inoculated against polio every day.
Jan Gisborne, a local Rotarian and polio survivor, has been on two National Immunization Days with other Rotarians, one in India, which was declared polio-free in 2012, and the other in Nigeria.
“I’m proud of what Rotary, including our two clubs in Powell River, have done to fight this dreaded disease,” says Gisborne. “Soon, instead of saying, ‘We are this close,’ we’ll be saying, ‘We did it!’”
Tickets for the Purple 4 Polio dinner are available at the Peak office or from a local Rotarian.
Purple 4 Polio Dinner
When: 6:30 pm, Tuesday, November 28
Where: ARC Community Event Centre
Info: 604.485.4770 or 604.485.2935