I thought I’d never walk again

: Nancy Wright Beasley, who wrote The Little Lion, sits on one of the motorcycles used in the stage adaptation of her book during rehearsal at Swift Creek Mill Theatre. Photo by Clement Britt

Nancy Wright Beasley, who wrote The Little Lion, sits on one of the motorcycles used in the stage adaptation of her book during rehearsal at Swift Creek Mill Theatre. Photo by Clement Britt

By Nancy Wright Beasley, a polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Brandermill, Virginia, USA

I thought I’d never walk again, but I did.

I thought I’d never talk about polio either, but I’ve regularly shared my childhood memories of the disease since joining the Rotary Club of Brandermill in 2005. I had been  invited to speak about my first book, Izzy’s Fire. That’s where I first learned about PolioPlus, and decided — that day — to join Rotary International’s fight to eradicate the disease. I often say that I’m the only speaker who gave a speech then never left.

I contracted polio in the summer of 1952, in the middle of one of the worst epidemics in U.S. history. Continue reading

Polio survivors say ‘thank you’

Carol Ferguson presents the Collage of Gratitutde

Carol Ferguson, right, presents the Collage of Gratitude to Carol Pandak, Director of PolioPlus for Rotary International.

By Rotary staff

On 9 September, we received a visitor at Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, who reminded us just how important the fight to eradicate polio is.

Every year, fewer and fewer cases of polio are reported, bringing us one-step closer to a polio-free world. Before Rotary launched the PolioPlus program in 1985, some 350,000 people a year were infected with the disease worldwide. Carol Ferguson was one of those people. Continue reading

Ready for the challenge of El Tour de Tucson

161010_drewBy Courtney Drew, Rotary staff

When I first interviewed to work at Rotary International, I told my future manager I was looking for a place to dig my roots deep; to contribute to the bigger picture, and to feel like I was part of an extended family. That, so far, has exactly been my experience here at Rotary and I am incredibly grateful.

Taking part in El Tour de Tucson as a member of the Miles to End polio team will provide a new level of depth to my roots; and bolster my connection to the Rotary family. Continue reading

Where a passion for cycling, service collide

Robson Duarte and bike in front of the São Paulo Cathedral.

Robson Duarte and bike in front of the São Paulo Cathedral.

161003_duarte_headBy Robson Duarte, Rotary staff

For the past two years, I have been a part of a volunteer group called “Atitude Certa.” Our mission is to visit orphanages and help with whatever we can, bringing joy and comfort to children even if it’s only on weekends. This is very gratifying, because we can see the joy stamped on the face of every child. Continue reading

Meet the 2016 Miles to End Polio team

2015 Miles to End Polio team

Last year’s Miles to End Polio team on ride day.

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

On 19 November, a team of Rotary staff and I will join Rotary members from Arizona (District 5500) and around the world to cycle 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

Fighting polio – an emergency response in Nigeria

Emergency Operations Center

The Emergency Operations Center in Abuja, Nigeria, kicks into action.

By Chris Offer, Rotary Club of Ladner, British Columbia, Canada

In late August 2016, I had the extraordinary opportunity to be in the National Polio Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Abuja, Nigeria. The center was activated to manage the response to two polio cases confirmed in Borno State.

I was in Nigeria as part of a Polio External Review team with the World Health Organization, CDC, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that had been planned  months before. But with the discovery of new polio cases, our focus shifted. Continue reading

Polio survivor’s fight to live a normal life

Tingle, Beard and Rohling

Peggy Tingle with Neal Beard (left) and Keith Rohling, president-elect of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club.

By Neal Beard, a member of the Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA

“I was 18 when I contracted the disease,” Peggy said, as she spoke into a lowered, stationary microphone set up at the front of our meeting room. She spoke from a motorized wheelchair, reading from her notes.

Peggy was the guest speaker at our club meeting recently, and her story underscored for me why we need to remain committed to eradicating this terrible disease of polio. Statistics are one thing, but when you hear someone’s story who has battled the disease, it takes your emotional resolve to a completely different level. Continue reading

Our greatest gift to future generations

Hussey and children in Nigeria

Ann Lee Hussey and children in Nigeria

By Ann Lee Hussey, a member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA

Polio can affect children anywhere. The poliovirus doesn’t discriminate based on geography, skin color, or religion. If we don’t eradicate polio now, the world could see cases rebound to 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years.

I’ve participated in 27 immunization campaigns, leading 23, throughout Africa and Asia, not because I’m a polio survivor, but because I believe polio eradication will be one of our greatest gifts to future generations. Continue reading

A proud son

Bill and Joan

Bill Pollard and his mom, Joan, president of the Rotary Club of Petersburg.

By Bill Pollard, past governor of District 7600 and a member of the Rotary Club of Churchland – Portsmouth, Virginia, USA

In 1988 at the age of 25, I was invited by Tommy Adkins, a retired banker and neighbor of my parents, to a meeting of the Rotary Club of Petersburg, Virginia. I had just started my banking career in my hometown of Petersburg and I remember calling my mom, Joan Pollard, asking her about Rotary. I recall her telling me it was a service oriented club and that my mom and dad had friends in the club.

We discussed it for a few minutes and I told my mom I would go because it would help Continue reading

Why surveillance is so important to polio eradication

Surveillance workers

Amina Ismail, right, checks appointment registers for cases of polio – an essential part of surveillance efforts to trace this devastating disease. WHO/L.Dore

By Michael Zaffran, director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization

In a small health clinic in Tharaka Nithi, Kenya, Amina Ismail pours over a register documenting all of the doctors’ appointments from recent months, a nurse by her side. She is checking every record for symptoms of polio – the sudden onset, floppy arms and legs that signify acute flaccid paralysis.

As they work, she checks that the nurse knows what the symptoms are, and that she knows what she has to do if a child with acute flaccid paralysis is brought to the clinic. This detailed surveillance for polio, working hand in hand with those who know their communities best of all, has been the linchpin of the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Continue reading