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Rotary Efforts To Eradicate Polio Date to 1980's

Local club has raised over $21,000 in last two years.

October 25, 2009       Leave a Comment
By: Stephen Kent

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Last Weeks Meeting - October 20, 2009

Rotary is internationally known for its global effort to stamp out the dread disease polio. That was not always the case, as member Chuck Cusick told the club in a talk on the history of Rotary's Polio Campaign.

In the 1920's Rotary International rules stated that each club had absolute autonomy in selection of its projects and funding goals. This was in direct response to an effort to commit Rotary to a program for the care and rehab of crippled children. Although a good cause, RI didn't want to limit clubs to one charity.

In 1963 RI began a program where they arbitrarily matched Rotary Clubs and Districts to help each other. As a result clubs in affluent countries joined clubs in developing nations for projects. This effort sparked the many water well, education and health projects that continue to this day.

In 1978 Rotary began the 3-H Health, Hunger and Humanity grants. These were high end grants in then $200,000 range. The initial funding came from the giving of individual Rotarians to the Rotary Foundation.

One of the first 3-H grant was for the eradication of Polio in the Philippines which was successful in it's first year. This was proof that it was possible to end the disease on a large scale by going into a country and working with the government to convince the people that they must immunize their children.

Albert Sabin, who developed the oral Polio vaccine, was honored by Rotary and spoke at the 1980 RI convention. He felt that the disease could be eradicated world wide with an organized effort. Cuba had done it in 1962 in one year. That was no problem in a dictatorship. To do the same thing world wide would require an organization like Rotary.

In 1985 RI made it a goal to end polio by Rotary's 100 year anniversary. But the International President refused to change the rule of each club deciding its own projects. Still, Rotary was involved in the polio effort and soon took up the challenge as its major goal.

In 1985 there were over 350,000 cases in 125 countries. Today there are fewer than 1,700 cases a year. The last countries with active Polio are Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria.

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation made a $100 million challenge grant and later added another $255 million. Rotarians have raised 98 million against that grant and anticipate raising the full amount by the 2012 deadline.

Polio is almost gone. With Rotary's efforts the battle can be won.


  • International Night preliminary numbers show that the club raised over $23,000.

  • There are still some dictionaries to be delivered but volunteers are set for all and the project should be completed soon. The club always received numerous letters from students. President Anne Trahan read two to the club:

    Dear Rotary Club. Thank you for the cool dictionary. I like the whole book. It's super. I love it. I'll always keep it clean and I won't let it bend. Thank you for the present and I'll keep it forever. I love the book and I'll never let it go out of my sight.

    Dear Rotary Club. Thank you for the amazing dictionary. My favorite part was about presidents. I will learn about everything in the book. And you are the best ever. I will use this book forever. And it is the best present ever.

  • Meeting Times: Lunch is now on the table at noon allowing members to start the meal earlier. The meeting starts by 12:30 and the speaker starting by 12:50. The meeting typically adjourns around 1:15!

  • Make-up On-Line at


  • The date of the District Foundation Gala is October 23. The club has reserved a table for 8. Contact Anne Trahan if you want a ticket.

    Upcoming Programs

    (See the official schedule at )

  • October 20: Polio Update World Polio Day, 24 October, is an ideal time to raise public awareness of the ravages of polio and garner support for eradication efforts.

  • October 27: The Pork Industry - More Than Just The Other White Meat. What's going on in the food and pork business in your area? Jerry May, Extension Educator for MSU, will talk about trends in the local farm economy that affect jobs and economic development, advances in pork production, and what they mean to the food we buy and our environment.

  • November 3: Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation Presented by Anne Trahan.

  • November 17: Rotary Grant Recipient Update; The Free Food Assistance Program and The Outdoor Reading Centers.

    Jennifer Carroll, Executive Director of the United Way of Bay County, will also share an overview on some UW programs including The Holiday Food Baskets, The State of Human Services Event and The Free Tax Program.


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    Stephen Kent

    Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 40 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.

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