By Dave Stumpf, Rotary staff
On one of my travels for Rotary, I visited our offices in New Delhi, India, in 2002. One image has always stuck with me since – that of a little girl begging on a train platform.
She was clearly afflicted with something terrible, impacting her ability to stand much less walk. My local hosts explained that she likely had polio. Now, I have my own 12-year-old daughter, and to know that she is safe from the scourge of polio, just because she had the good fortune to be born in the United States – well, it should be everyone’s good fortune to be protected from this disease.
I’m excited to be doing the Miles to End Polio bike ride as part of El Tour de Tucson this November for a number of reasons. I’ve worked with Rotary in various capacities since 1995, principally in our accounting group and currently in our Auditing Services group. I’ve had the ability to work many International Assemblies and International Conventions, giving me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, which would not have happened, had I not been part of Rotary.
To me, the eradication of polio is one of the most significant public-private enterprises ever undertaken. It is truly a massive effort on every scale and knowing the origins of the eradication efforts in the early-1980s, starting off as a smaller multi-club project in the Philippines, just goes to show that anyone, anywhere can have an audacious idea, and see it to fruition, as long as there is “patient persistence.”
When it comes to this ride, for the past 12 years or so I’ve been involved with the sport of triathlon and open water swimming, slowly building up my endurance from short distance tri’s in 2003, to completing the Wisconsin Ironman in Madison in 2012 and again in 2015. I have also participated in numerous century rides as well as a bunch of 5k open water swim events (both organized and simply on my own). So planning and training to build endurance for El Tour de Tucson is something I am familiar with. But this time it has been extra special to be able to do this with a team of colleagues that I normally don’t get to work with closely, and to do this for a higher purpose.
In 2011, I joined the Rotary Club of Evanston, have served as club treasurer for three years, and am currently 2016-17 club president. The club is really supporting me on this ride, with both donations and encouragement!
All these things, plus being so close to finally ending this disease, make this an exciting time to be engaged in something much bigger than myself. Participating in triathlons and open water endurance swims have been a lot of fun. But doing something like this ride, and helping to collect donations to support the global eradication of polio, has special meaning.
Dave Stumpf is director of auditing services at Rotary International, and one of several Rotary staff members who will join General Secretary John Hewko in biking El Tour de Tucson in Arizona to raise money for polio eradication. Read posts from other team members leading up to the 19 November event and learn how you can support the team.
Want to join the effort? Take part in the Indoor Ride to End Polio by riding a stationary bike at your local gym or at home anytime from 12 to 19 November.