Memories of Kenya fuel my ride to end polio

Lindsey Griswold and her students at the Gede Special School in Kenya.

Lindsay Griswold and her students at the Gede Special School in Kenya.

By Lindsay Griswold

My passion for working with youth at an international level first blossomed during my time with the Peace Corps in Kenya. I served as a Deaf education volunteer from 2006 to 2008 at Gede Special School in Coast Province.

While I was not aware then of the significance Rotary would later have in my life, the school was built by the Rotary Club of Malindi, Kenya, a few months before my arrival. Gede serves not only students who Continue reading

Taking the polio eradication effort to the streets

150929_websterBy Norah Webster, Rotary staff

I love riding my bike. I don’t own a car, so I ride for transportation. I also ride for exercise, to explore, and to spend time with friends. My bike has allowed me to see parts of Chicago and surrounding communities that people never see from the highway.

As long as I’ve been riding, I’ve been raising funds, too — from pedaling around my hometown of Galena, Illinois, for children’s cancer research when I was 9, to raising Continue reading

Meet the Miles to End polio team

Last year's team mugs for the camera.

Last year’s team mugs for the camera.

John HewkoBy John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

On 21 November, Rotary staff members and I will join Arizona Rotary members to bike up to 104 miles in El Tour de Tucson to raise funds for polio eradication.

The event is one of the top cycling events in the U.S., attracting more than 9,000 cyclists each year. We are aiming to raise $3.4 million, which will be tripled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a total of more than $10 million for the fight to end polio. Continue reading

A milestone for polio eradication

150724_mcgovernEditor’s Note: This post, first published in July, has been revised to reflect the new milestone reached in our fight to eradicate polio, and to celebrate Membership and New Club Development Month. Rotary members have many opportunities to make a difference, including being part of history as we seek a polio-free world. Rotary members have led the way in fundraising, advocacy, and lining up volunteer support for polio eradication.

By Michael McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee

Africa has now marked a full year with no new cases of polio caused by the wild poliovirus anywhere on the continent.

This is the longest the continent has ever gone without a case of polio and a critical step on the path toward a polio-free Africa. We’ve come a long way; it was only a decade ago that polio struck 12,631 people in Africa – three-quarters of all cases in the world. Continue reading

Rotary torch keeps the flame burning for polio eradication in Afghanistan

Members of the Rotary Club of Kabul hold the Rotary torch during its stop at their club.

Mohammed Ishak, Rotary Club of Jalalabad, holds the torch during a joint event with the Rotary Club of Kabul City. Luke Beer, author of this post, is second from right in back.

By Luke Beer, president of the Rotary Club of Kabul City, Afghanistan

As some of you know, a Rotary “flame” was launched in December in Chennai, India, to commemorate India becoming polio-free and to promote the need to go the last mile in the battle to eradicate this horrible crippling disease. The torch has made its way through several countries already, and will pass through all three polio endemic countries  – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria – before arriving at the 2015 Rotary Convention in São Paulo 6-9 June.

I want to share with you just how inspiring it was to be part of the flame’s journey. As an Afghan club, we are so grateful for the energy it has given us as a club to refocus our efforts on polio awareness, working alongside the Rotary Club of Jalalabad. Continue reading

Clubs celebrate Rotary’s anniversary, 30 years of PolioPlus

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This week marks 110 years since Paul P. Harris, Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, and Hiram E. Shorey gathered in Loehr’s office in Room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago for what would become known as the first Rotary club meeting. It also is 30 years since Rotary launched its campaign to rid the world of polio.

Rotary clubs are celebrating the milestones in a variety of ways. The Rotary Club of Mt. Warning AM, New South Wales, Australia, gave away pancakes and handouts on the village’s main street. Continue reading

How will you celebrate 30 years of PolioPlus?

Rotary members in Panama City, Panama, celebrated Rotary's anniversary last year by lighting up the Biodiversity Museum with the End Polio Now logo.

Rotary members in Panama City, Panama, celebrated Rotary’s anniversary last year by lighting up the Biodiversity Museum with the End Polio Now logo.

This year marks 30 years since Rotary launched its campaign to rid the world of polio.

During a speech at Rotary’s annual training event for leaders in February 1985, then President Carlos Canseco announced what he called “the biggest news in Rotary,” an organized campaign to eradicate polio by working alongside the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Prior to that, Rotary Foundation grants had supported immunization activities in individual countries.

Leading up to Rotary’s anniversary, 23 February, we will have coverage of our progress in eradicating polio, and what Rotary clubs are doing to celebrate, on and Send photos of your club’s celebration to to be included in a special gallery here.

Golf marathon raises money for polio eradication

Jerry Venters (left) and Rger Samuel, members of the Rotary Club of Kansas City Plaza, show the played 100 holes of golf, adding the "This Close" gesture.

Jerry Venters (left) and Roger Samuel, members of the Rotary Club of Kansas City Plaza, show they played 100 holes of golf, adding the “This Close” gesture.

By Jerry Venters,  a  member of the Rotary Club of Kansas City Plaza

Some golfers played 54 holes, some played 65 holes. Others played 100 holes, and one played 126 holes. All in a single day in September, in a drive to raise money to help eradicate polio. And, oh, how they succeeded!

In our district’s first-ever Pars v. Polio Golf Marathon, Rotary members in District 6040 (north Missouri) raised $42,530 in pledges and donations. When you figure in the Bill & Melinda Gates pledge to match 2-to-1 every dollar that Continue reading

Climbing Mount Olympus to eradicate polio

The climbers raise a banner on Mount Olympus, Greece.

The climbers raise banners on Mount Olympus, Greece.

By Kostas Karvounis

In September, I joined two fellow Rotary members in Greece, Vassilis Papagiannis and Spyros Gravellas, in climbing Mount Olympus to raise money and awareness for polio eradication.

Almost three-decades ago, Rotary promised to eradicate polio, and we intend to keep our promise. Even though Greece has been polio-free for more than two decades, I still remember close family friends who were disabled by polio. I have four children, and I know that until polio is eradicated from the world, it remains a threat to children everywhere. So offering our children a polio-free world is the least we can do. Continue reading

Making grandpa proud and riding to end polio

Tom Woods is training for the El Tour de Tucson.

Tom Woods is training for the El Tour de Tucson.

By Tom Woods, Rotary staff

Prior to joining the staff at Rotary Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, my only exposure to Rotary was through my grandfather, Richard Stannard, who was a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Oak Park-River Forest, where I grew up.

Grandpa never really mentioned much about his membership with Rotary, but when I told him that I had been hired to work with the Secretariat in Evanston, he became really excited and invited me to come to his club’s lunch meeting. I had never seen him so proud when he announced to the club that I would be working for Rotary, and it became clear to me in that moment how much the organization meant to him. Continue reading