Rotary in action: Ride the train to end polio

Many young people today do not know what polio is.

Riding the rails for a cause: Members of Illawarra-based Rotary Clubs present cheques to Mark Anderson of Rotary International (wearing cap) during his marathon journey across the entire metropolitan train network.

Riding the rails for a cause: Members of Illawarra-based Rotary Clubs present cheques to Mark Anderson of Rotary International (wearing cap) during his marathon journey across the entire metropolitan train network.

Anyone born before the 1970s would know someone who had contracted polio. Polio is a highly infectious viral disease. It mainly affects children aged under 5.

One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Up to 10 per cent die when their breathing muscles become paralysed. This disease was commonplace in Australia in the 1940’s and 50’s.

In 1988, Rotary, together with the World Health Organisation decided to eradicate polio from the world. At that time there were 350,000 cases of polio in the world each year.

This year to date, there have been 18 cases in the world – 14 in Afghanistan and 4 in Pakistan.

There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donates $2 for every $1 raised by Rotary – such is the regard that Bill Gates has for Rotary.

World Polio Day is October 24, so Mark Anderson and his son, Dave, from the Rotary Club of Beecroft, proposed that last Friday they would travel to all 187 stations in Sydney to highlight this great Rotary project.

Rotary Clubs could meet them at a station, make a donation, or ride with them on the train, promoting Rotary and the End Polio campaign.

They started at 4.30am and finished just before midnight. District 9675 Governor, Sue Hayward, rode almost all day with them.

District Governor-Elect Di North rode the Illawarra line from Kiama to Waterfall with an enthusiastic group. Several Rotary Clubs were waiting at stations along the way.

There was a warm welcome at Wollongong Station with members from the West Wollongong, Wollongong and Corrimal Rotary Clubs. Several young people on the train asked what it was about as they had never heard of polio.

This train ride was a great opportunity to engage with community members and let people know the good things that Rotary does.

Almost $250,000 was raised on the day which, when combined with the donation from Bill and Melinda Gates means that $750,000 will go to Ending Polio Now.

For further information about Rotary and the End Polio Now Program, please contact Di North on 0429 774 363 or email dianne_north@bigpond.com

Pictured: Yvonne How, partner, RC of Shellharbour City;  Di North District 9675 Governor Elect; Sue Hayward, District 9675 Governor; Kay Mireylees, President of the RC Club of Corrimal, Mark Anderson of Rotary International, Parramatta office;  Larry How, President RC of Shellharbour City; and Dave Anderson, Mark’s son.  Both Mark and Dave are members of the RC of Beecroft.