By Jim Ferguson, governor-elect of District 7550 (West Virginia, USA)
Why did I become a Rotarian? Was it fellowship, networking, building a resume, or some other reason? For me it was about the chance to add purpose to my life and make a difference. And eradicating polio is very important to me.
My amazing mother had polio and I witnessed firsthand how it affected her life. Despite her disability she raised 9 children during some very rough times. Her perseverance motivated me to be an advocate, to raise funds, travel to India to immunize children, and do whatever it takes to ensure no child anywhere in the world is ever crippled by this horrible virus again.
My district has planned several events leading up to World Polio Day. Two of which were held at minor league baseball parks. On 13 July, the Rotary Club of Bluefield, West Virginia hosted Rotary Night at the Park with the Blue Jays in lieu of their regular meeting. Baseball caps were handed out to the first 300 attendees as we enjoyed fellowship and raised awareness for Rotary’s polio eradication efforts.
A second Rotary Night at the Park with the Princeton Rays was hosted by the Rotary Club of Princeton, West Virginia, on 20 July, where they handed out free T-shirts to the first 300 attendees. An authentic iron lung was on display at the gate entrance. On 4-5 August, we set up exhibits at the Mercer County Fair.
I’ve seen children crippled by the polio virus in India and it pulled on my heart strings to the point I broke down and cried. Paul Harris said, “The power of combined effort knows no limitations. When we work together the impossible becomes possible.”
Holding events like the ones above are fun because of the inner joy we get in knowing we are making a difference. This is my way of contributing, and we must finish the job. Together, we will see the end of polio and what a celebration we will have. Ending polio will be our legacy.
Be an advocate. Plan to celebrate World Polio Day and register your event at endpolio.org.