Masa Kato is a global communications specialist at Rotary International. He is one of six Rotary staff members who will join Rotary General Secretary John Hewko in biking El Tour de Tucson in Arizona 23 November to raise money for polio eradication.
By Masa Kato
The six staff members who will be riding in El Tour de Tucson later this month all have different personal reasons for being part of the Miles to End Polio Team. But we all have one thing in common, a desire to help Rotary’s effort to eradicate polio. My main objective in riding is likewise to support our top priority of ridding the world of this disease. But I have two other personal reasons.
I have seen the rise of peer-to-peer, or P2P for short, fundraising in North America. There is great potential for supporting good through this platform where individuals can use their personal connections to get others to give to a great cause. But sadly, P2P has not been growing as strongly in Japan, my native country, where the idea of collectivism is entrenched. I feel there is pressure that works against individual activism, as our culture has this strong tradition of collective action. I feel there is a pressure that works against individualism, in the sense of the old saying “a nail that sticks out will be hammered down.”
I am hoping my ride draws attention to P2P in Japan and throughout Asia. The amount I will raise for polio eradication through my ride isn’t tremendous. But if I can get more Rotary members in Asia to practice peer-to-peer fundraising, we could do some tremendous good for worthy projects. That would be worth celebrating with two barrels of sake!
My second reason relates to my six-year-old son, who is hearing impaired in one ear. I am riding to show my son that there are people and friends who are always there to support people with disabilities. So far, my son has not experienced any learning deficiencies due to his hearing and he is very active in school. But it never takes much to trigger bullying. And I have concerns how kids will react when my son can’t respond to things they say. I think knowing that people are willing to support a cause like Miles to End Polio, where we are taking a stand to prevent future children from being crippled by this disease, will show him that there are people in this world who truly care for others.
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