Afghan students celebrate World Polio Day

Afghan Youth Connect leads an assembly on polio eradication.

By Stephen R. Brown, past Rotary Foundation trustee

During a three-day period encompassing World Polio Day, 24 October, a group of students in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, conducted a polio awareness campaign that was able to reach many of their peers with the message about Rotary’s work to eradicate polio. While many clubs worldwide held activities around World Polio Day, this one was especially exciting to me because these students are part of a program known as Afghan Youth Connect (AYC) which I have been involved with since 2008. Continue reading

“My role was to educate”

Ella Lacey. 1 June 2019, Hamburg, Germany.

Ella Phillips Lacey, a member of the Rotary Club of Carbondale, Illinois, USA, as told to Jenny Llakmani. Photos by Monika Lozinska

“I was a professor at Southern Illinois University’s school of medicine for 22 years. My Ph.D. is in health education. At the end of 1994, I retired and joined the Peace Corps. It was a transitional step for me. I think it’s a great opportunity for people who are retired. When you’re working in cultures as different from yours as Malawi was from mine, it’s great to have some life experiences already. Sometimes when we first leave college, we think we’ve learned all we ever need to know. Continue reading

Mixing food, fun, and Rotary service in Nagoya

Judy Ongg

Judy Ongg, actress, singer and Rotary celebrity ambassador for polio eradication, takes part in the festivities.

By Tetsuzo Fukuda, Rotary Club of Nagoya-Wago and polio plus committee chair for District 2760 (Japan)

We held our sixth annual World Food and Fureai Festival 27-28 October in a park in downtown Nagoya (fureai is a Japanese word meaning interaction). Under a beautiful autumn sky, more than 70,000 people gathered for an outdoor food festival featuring foods from around the world, presentations about Rotary’s humanitarian work, and entertainment. We broke our record for ticket sales and onsite donations.

Continue reading

A tribute to a tireless polio eradication volunteer


Video from the memorial service for Jack Blane

By David Waring, Past President, Breakfast Rotary Club of Barrington, Illinois, and Past Governor of Rotary District 6440

When polio is finally eradicated from the planet and we look back on Rotary’s role in making that happen, one of the first persons history is certain to smile upon will be Jack Blane. Sadly, Jack did not live to see the day that we all look forward to, but his remarkable contribution and tireless efforts live on as we bring this worthy battle to its conclusion.  Continue reading

Ralph’s Rickshaw Ride for Polio

Ralph Zuke with a passenger in his cycle-drawn rickshaw.

By Ralph Zuke, president of the Rotary Club of Fairview Heights, Illinois, USA

I am often asked, “Why Rotary?” The short answer is: Rotary allows me the opportunity to do things I never dreamed I could do.

The Rotary symbol is a cogged wheel. I view every member in Rotary as a cog in that wheel (about 1.2 million). When I first joined Rotary I learned that I, as one person, could move that wheel forward. Continue reading

My mom was a Polio Pioneer

By Richard J. Fox, Rotary Club of Charlotte-Shelburne, Vermont, USA

Since joining Rotary in 2011, I have been impressed by its commitment to eradicating polio from the world through its End Polio Now campaign. That said, polio never resonated with me as a significant cause.

I was generally aware of polio’s impact throughout history: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the March of Dimes, iron lungs, and the polio panic here in the United States. But it wasn’t personal to me; it was something of the previous generation, abstract, to which I had no emotional investment.

And then my mom went and showed me how wrong I was. 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

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