Support grows for Miles to End Polio

John and Marga Hewko training for the El Tour de Tucson

RI General Secretary John Hewko and his wife, Marga.

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

For more than 20 years, Rotary members and their friends have worked tirelessly to keep our promise to the world’s children to eradicate polio. We’re almost there, but as in any race, the last mile is the hardest.

To honor those who strive to reach this historic goal of eradicating a disease for only the second time in history, I will again be joining Rotary members in the Tucson, Arizona, area on 23 November to raise money for Rotary’s Polio Plus Program by riding 111 miles in El Tour de Tucson. (Listen to Hewko’s interview with ESPN Radio in Tucson, ArizonaIt’s one of the top U.S. cycling events, and it attracts more than 9,000 cyclists a year.

Last year, thanks to the generous support of many members of Rotary and their friends, we were able to raise more than US$240,000 in pledges for polio eradication through the Ride to End Polio. This year, staff at RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, and our International offices around the world are joining me in a parallel effort to raise support while setting a mileage goal in their own favorite manner – biking, walking, spinning, or whatever locomotion helps meet their wellness goals.

Already, we have been receiving tremendous response. Rotary clubs, districts, and members of the public have committed more than $700,000 to the effort. Staff volunteers exceeded the goals we set, with 179 staff logging nearly 5,000 miles, raising over $14,000 in pledges.

You can read more about their effort on the Miles to End Polio project profile on Rotary’s crowdsourcing platform, ideas.rotary.org. What we raise will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation two for one, tripling the impact.

To motivate myself to train for the El Tour de Tucson, and encourage others to log their miles, each Monday I will be updating my training schedule for the previous week here in the blog. I encourage you to support our effort, share your training accomplishments, and join the fight to end this crippling disease. Together, let’s End Polio Now.

Last week’s schedule:

Monday, 11 November 90 minutes on trainer with bike
Tuesday, 12 November speaking in Pittsburgh
Wednesday, 13 November speaking in Arkansas
Thursday, 14 November 45 minutes on trainer with bike, 1 mile swim
Friday, 15 November 1.5 hours on trainer with bike
Saturday, 16 November 2.5 hours on trainer with bike, stretch, weights
Sunday, 17 November 70 minutes on trainer with bike, stretch, weights

5 thoughts on “Support grows for Miles to End Polio

  1. What a wonderful undertaking from you and all the RI staff. Wishing you all the best.
    Well we here in Durban SA as the Rotary E-Club of South Africa One are trying not only to get funds but especially in South Africa to make the general public aware that Polio is still out there. On Saturday we have a table at one of our busy malls and we will distribute END POLIO NOW stickers and our members will convey the message. We are only a small fish in a big pond, but we try. Irene Kotze

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  2. John,
    Glad to hear you and the staff are working hard to stay in shape to counteract all those Rotary Dinners! Our Rotary Club of West U (Houston, TX) collected about $1,000 for Polio at this morning’s meeting in honor of World Polio Day and I will forward it to support your Miles to End Polio challenge – and to be matched by the Gates Foundation! In addition, our local Interact Club will have a Scare Polio Off the Earth – Haunted House at their High School. Terry Ziegler, District 5890 Rotary Foundation Committee Chair

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  3. I took a page out of Rotary Club of Peachlands, Canada. They challenged each of their members to donate $33.33 for PolioPlus. In our club in Prosser, we have 52 active members. I made the same challenge to our club when I presented our local World Polio Day Program. With the Gates Match we would raise around $5,000. Not bad for a rural farming community.

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  4. Congratulations John! We were there today cheering you on in the rainy El Tour de Tucson. We saw many Rotary riders pass by our Vistoso Cyclists cheering section at the corner of Rancho Vistoso and Silverton. We have and will continue to support Rotary Foundation’s Polio Plus efforts. Thank you for your fundraising.

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  5. I am so thankful for the Polio Plus Project. I am a polio survivor from 1948. At the young age of 6 1/2 months I was stricken. Now 65 years old and doing a well as I can. I still wear a long leg left brace and walk with a cane. My physical activity is must slower due to my limitations. Keep up the great work that you are doing. We must End Polio Now”. In August of 2012 my book “All The Steps I Have Taken” was published with Inspiring Voice. It has taken me on a fantastic journey meeting many polio survivors and also sharing my story with 5-6 graders in public schools, many church organization and librarys. They need to hear a challenging story and see that it can be overcome and lead a successful life.

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