Why polio eradication means so much to me

Diane WIlkins in an iron lung

Grant Wilkins’ first wife, Diane, in an iron lung in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Grant Wilkins.

By Grant Wilkins, past RI director and member of the Rotary Club of Denver, Colorado, USA.

In 1951, as a young father of three children ages 5, 2, and 3-months (the youngest born prematurely and still in the hospital), I contracted Bulbar Polio.

My throat and vocal cords were paralyzed, and I couldn’t talk or swallow. A tracheotomy and intravenous feedings kept me alive for two weeks until the paralysis started letting up.

My wife came to visit me for the first time after those two weeks, and mentioned she wasn’t feeling well. A spinal tap found she had the Lumbar Polio virus, and she was immediately admitted to the polio ward. Within 24 hours, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down and could not breathe on her own. Continue reading

Dolly, Rotary put books into the hands of children


Above: Dolly Patron talks about the Imagination Library and the partnership with Rotary during the 2010 Convention in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

By David Dotson, president of the Dollywood Foundation

The wonderful partnership between Dolly Parton and Rotary International continues to flourish in communities both large and small all across the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, and most recently Australia.

Although every community approaches the program in its own way, one thing impresses me much more than dollars raised or even time invested –and this is the enormous influence Rotarians exert in their communities. Continue reading

Club project tackles water crisis with technology, soul

Jon Kaufman, left, and team members hold up three fingers, signifying water, education, and peace, during the installation of a SunSpring.

Jon Kaufman, left, and team members hold up three fingers, signifying water, education, and peace, during the installation of a SunSpring.

By Jon Kaufman, a member of the Rotary Club of Peninsula Sunrise (Redwood City/Menlo Park), California, USA

When we launched our club’s project, H2OpenDoors, we said that the world’s water crisis can be solved with a little technology and a whole lot of soul.

With our first two installations completed at two hill tribe villages in Northern Thailand in February 2013, we are now preparing for the next in Myanmar. Continue reading

Not engaging Rotary is killing clubs

Martin “Marty” Postic, Jr.

Martin “Marty” Postic, Jr.

By Martin “Marty” Postic, Jr., past governor of District 5750 (Oklahoma, USA) and a member of the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City Midtown, Oklahoma, USA

I am proud to say that I consider RI President Ron Burton a friend. One of my first Rotary Club make up meetings in 1985 was at a small club that had bad food, a bad program, REALLY bad singing and (surprise!) very few members. However, as I sat down, a man reached his hand across the table and said, “Hi! I’m Ron Burton from the Norman Rotary Club” and introduced me to a Rotarian guest he had brought. Continue reading

Microcredit program helps small businesses in Northern Illinois

Judy Zabielski (left)  and Laura Mueller, co-owners of Acacia Organics, in Barrington, Illinois, USA, benefitted from a microloan provided by the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club.

Judy Zabielski (left) and Laura Mueller, co-owners of Acacia Organics, in Barrington, Illinois, USA, benefitted from a microloan provided by the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club.

By Narayan Murarka, chair of the microcredit committee for the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club, Barrington, Illinois, USA

For several years, microcredit projects have been helping eliminate poverty by providing small loans to poor women in developing countries. But the need isn’t always overseas. Sometimes, it’s a lot closer to home.

My club launched a program in 2010 that focuses on small businesses in our area which are facing a short-term credit challenge. Continue reading

We’ve joined the World’s Biggest Commercial, won’t you?

Lisa Hebson

Lisa Hebson

By Lisa Hebson, a participant in the World’s Biggest Commercial and resident of Evanston, Illinois, USA. Hebson’s brother-in-law is a creative director at SCC, the ad agency that helped develop the commercial for Rotary.

My brother-in-law is very enthusiastic about Rotary’s “This Close” campaign. It is a really exciting collaboration of people.

A few weeks ago, I promised him I would take 100 photos of people for the World’s Biggest Commercial. It would be my gift to him, and a challenging goal for me to strive for in the new year. Continue reading

RI President: Reflecting on peace


By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

My visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial made a deep impression on me. Walking through the rows of empty chairs, one for each of the bombing’s 168 victims, I thought of the families, friends, and loved ones left behind. Continue reading

Hats that make kids smile

Harriet “Pepi” Noble

By Harriet “Pepi” Noble, a member of the Rotary Club of Mechanicville, New York, USA

There were a lot of happy, smiling faces out there in our community recently, as the beautiful and colorful Hats For A Purpose were distributed to local schools to help warm the hearts and heads of kids who needed them. Continue reading

Crossing the finish line in the Ride to End Polio

Gary Hirsch before the start of the Ride to End Polio in Tucson, Arizona, USA. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska

By Gary Hirsch, a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson, Arizona, and an organizer of the Ride to End Polio

Being a cyclist, I didn’t think much in advance about completing the 111 miles of El Tour de Tucson for the 2012 Ride to End Polio. The 111 miles is a big haul, but not as big as planning an event like this.

The ride began for our planning committee back in March. District Governor Randy Brooks set an audacious goal of raising US$200,000. I didn’t think we’d make it, but then I didn’t think we would make last year’s $100,000 goal, which we did. Once again, I was unnecessarily pessimistic, so far we have raised more than $375,000. Continue reading

Join us in celebrating World Polio Day

By Amanda Peet, actress and vaccine ambassador for Every Child By Two

Today is World Polio Day. To most Americans this day of observance will quietly slip under the radar; and understandably so. Here in America, our children are protected from this horrible disease, which prior to the development of a polio vaccine in 1955, paralyzed up to 20,000 and killed nearly 1,000 of our citizens each year. Most of the victims who survived polio were young children, many who remained in iron lungs for a lifetime. Today, polio remains endemic in only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) and in 2011, less than 700 cases were reported. This is a reduction of more than 99 percent since 1985. Continue reading