Why I ride to end polio

Gary Bren on his bike.
Gary Bren during a previous year’s Ride to End Polio in El Tour de Tucson.

By Gary Bren, past governor of District 5650 (Iowa, Nebraska, USA)

For more than two decades, my wife and I have been committed to Rotary’s effort to eradicate polio. The roots of my involvement go back to events before I was born. I have two older sisters, and after my second sister was born, my mom had two miscarriages. My parents really wanted a third child, so the doctors prescribed a drug that would help my mom carry a child full-term. 

I was born with a few side effects from that drug. The first – a single abdominal kidney – was discovered at the time of my birth. The second, I didn’t discover until years later. In the 1990s my wife and I were having trouble conceiving a child, and we found out the problem was related to the drug my mother had taken.

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Looking back at 10 years of riding to end polio

El Tour de Tucson

Rotarians participate in the El Tour de Tucson in Arizona, USA, in 2016.

By Gary Hirsch, a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson, Arizona, USA 

Roughly 10 years ago, Rotarian Michael J. Harris of the Casas Adobes Rotary was debating ways to help small Rotary clubs take advantage of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2:1 match for contributions to PolioPlus. For some time, Mike had also lobbied Perimeter Bicycling to allow Rotary to field a team in El Tour de Tucson as one of the ride’s “beneficiaries.”  He thought that would be a great opportunity for clubs large or small. Mike could not have imagined what his pet project would become. Or, knowing Mike, maybe he could. Continue reading

Images from the 2017 Ride to End Polio

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By Rotary Voices staff, Photos by James S. Wood

The 2017 Ride to End Polio posted another successful year at El Tour de Tucson in Arizona, USA, in November. A team of staff members and Rotary General Secretary John Hewko joined 120 cyclists from 18 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, Australia, Brazil, Germany, and France. In addition, the effort was joined by 18 Indoor Ride to End Polio teams, including six district teams and 12 club teams comprising more than 300 participants.

As of 13 December, the ride had raised $11.7 million for polio eradication, after the match by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the total funds raised since inception of the ride to a little more than $47 million. Miles to End Polio staff riders raised $278,000 this year. About $66,000 was raised through the team’s Rotary Ideas page.

What excites me about Miles to End Polio

Kea Gorden before a training ride in Evanston.

By Kea Gorden, planned giving officer

On World Polio Day, I watched Rotary’s livestream event and realized that I really am in the middle of history in the making. As part of the Rotary staff Miles to End Polio team, I will be riding 106 miles on 18 November in the El Tour de Tucson. Riding that far is not something I’ve ever done before. But it gives me a great sense of accomplishment to feel like I can be a part of an effort that is having such a significant impact. As I watched Bill Gates announce his belief that this year will be the one where polio is finally stopped, I realized how close we really all. Continue reading

Ready to ride for more

By Chelsea Mertz, Community Specialist, Rotary Service Connections

Since starting at Rotary in August 2015, I have been fortunate enough to support both the 2015 and 2016 Miles to End Polio teams. While supporting these teams, I’ve come to know many Rotarians and staff who are committed to funding the fight to end polio. I admire their hard work and dedication; they’ve inspired me to do more, to finally put myself forward and join the ranks of Rotary’s volunteer army. Continue reading