A polio survivor’s plea: Don’t let this happen to you

Div Louw
Polio survivor Div Louw, of the Rotary Club of Benoni, South Africa, trains for an upcoming para sport triathlon event.

By Div Louw, Rotary Club of Benoni, South Africa

I was a typical, energetic four-year old in South Africa, running around our house with visions of my hero, long distance runner Jan Barnard, in my head when I felt something wrong. I ran inside and told my mother, “I have a dripping tap in my chest.” This was my way of describing what I felt, my heart skipping beats now and again. My mom, Christine, pressed an ear to my chest and called our general practitioner.

That would be the last day I would run imaginary races with Barnard. I had contracted spino-bulbar polio, which destroys neurons in the brainstem causing respiratory or cardiac failure. I was given less than a 2% chance of survival. This was in 1955, during a polio epidemic in South Africa, months before the Salk Vaccine was declared safe and effective.

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Australian tandem bike ride raises awareness for polio eradication

Phil and Joyce Ogden set off from Perth
Phil and Joyce Ogden set out from Perth, Australia, on their ride across the Nullarbor Plain to raise money and awareness for Rotary’s polio eradication efforts.

By Phil and Joyce Ogden, Rotary Club of South Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

My wife Joyce and I enjoy tandem cycling. Two years ago, when I met somebody who had cycled the Nullarbor Plain in Australia, a seed was planted in the back of my mind that maybe this was a challenge for us to do in the future.

We are closer than ever to ending polio. We have reduced cases by 99.9% since 1988. With our partners, Rotary has immunized more than 2.5 billion children worldwide to end polio for good.  But we’re not there yet and we can’t afford to be complacent.

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Using Raise for Rotary to support polio eradication is a breeze

Jayne Hulbert and her husband, Gene, at the Road Rally to End Polio in 2020.
Jayne Hulbert and her husband, Gene, get ready for the District 5150 Road Rally to End Polio in 2020.

By Jayne Hulbert, past governor and Rotary Foundation chair, District 5150

The eradication of polio is personal to me. My sister and my husband’s father both were victims of this dreaded disease when they were only 5 years old. I joined Rotary because of our fight against polio.

Last year, when I learned that Rotary had created the fundraiser site, Raise for Rotary, I immediately knew I wanted to use it. I am always looking for ways to make it as easy as possible for people to donate to The Rotary Foundation. As part of District 5150’s PolioPlus fundraising campaign we set up our first Raise for Rotary website. It was a huge success.

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How to plan a virtual World Polio day event

2019 WPD event

Local civic and government officials and representatives from ten Rotary clubs at the 2019 World Polio Day event. Photo by David Andrews

By David F. Andrews, three-time past president, Rotary Club of Oshawa-Parkwood, Ontario, Canada, and chair of District 7070’s Public Image Committee

After many years of celebrating World Polio Day with proclamations, updates from Rotary and health leaders, and flag-raising ceremonies, the 10 Rotary clubs in District 7070 (Ontario, Canada) took a different course in 2018. An in-person event held in a new global classroom and simultaneously streamed live is now serving as a great model as we approach holding our first World Polio Day live event in a COVID-19 world.

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When embracing your weakness helps you succeed

Steve Stirling with medical supplies

Steve Stirling. CEO of MAP International, with some of the medical supplies the organization provides to people in need worldwide.

Editors Note: Watch our Global Polio Update streamed live on World Polio Day, 24 October.

By Steve Stirling, a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Georgia, USA

They are typical job interview questions: What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness? 

But in my case, the interviewer often hesitates. After all, how do you ask a guy who is wearing leg braces and using crutches about his greatest weakness? It seems both obvious and insensitive. Continue reading

Can you top these creative polio fundraisers?

 

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By Arnold R. Grahl

From riding the rails in Sydney, Australia, to crossing mountain paths on the way to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru, members of Rotary have been coming up with creative ways to raise money and awareness for polio eradication leading up to World Polio Day 24 October.

Already, clubs and individuals have listed more than 1,600 events on Endpolio.org. Promote your event and mark your calendar to watch the livestream of Rotary’s World Polio Day event at 18:30 Philadelphia time (UTC-4) on 24 October.

Here are just a few of the events Rotarians have planned or held: Continue reading

Watch our World Polio Day livestream event

By Rotary staff

Polio is no longer the menace it once was in many parts of the world. But until it is eradicated everywhere, it is still a threat to people anywhere. To find out where we are at in our effort to rid the world of this crippling disease, tune in to our World Polio Day livestream event at 14:30 PDT (UTC-7) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle. Continue reading

My dad’s battle with polio

Michelle Provan and her dad, Robert, who died in 2006 from pulmonary complications stemming from postpolio syndrome.

By Michelle Provan

During the 1950s, shortly after World War II, polio had a rampant outbreak in Chicago. I remember my dad, Robert Provan, telling the story of how he went to play at Evergreen Park, taking a sip of cool water from a drinking fountain, and believing that is where he caught the deadly disease at age five.

He was diagnosed with the worst type of polio. It instantly affected his entire body, and he was paralyzed from the neck down. He also spent time in an iron lung. My grandparents tried a couple of specialists to no avail. In fact, they were told to institutionalize him, a practice that was common during this time. They were told, “He is a burden to the family, and he belongs in an institute. Just let him die.” Continue reading

Overcoming obstacles to polio eradication in Pakistan

A Rotary volunteer administers polio drops to a child missed by earlier rounds in Pakistan.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Henry Ford

By Alina A. Visram, manager, Pakistan National PolioPlus Committee

When I first joined Pakistan’s PolioPlus Committee (PNPPC) as a manager close to eight years ago, polio eradication seemed within our reach. I used the opportunity to study poliomyelitis beyond just perceiving it as “a crippling disease.” I researched the causes and consequences; the types of polio virus; modes of prevention; and how elusive the virus can be given the right conditions. Continue reading

Polio eradication: when the impossible becomes possible

Night at the Park attendees learn about Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio.

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. Continue reading