World Polio Day Oct. 24

CLINTON — Rotary clubs throughout East Central Illinois are planning a multi-media, public awareness campaign for World Polio Day, Oct. 24.  They will be using billboards, newspapers and public service announcements in at least 40 locations.

District 6490 Governor Larry J. Howell of the Arcola Rotary Club  said the goal is to increase public awareness of Rotary’s goal of eradicating polio. The district encompasses 50 clubs in 26 counties, from Livingston County south to Fayette County and from the Indiana state line west to near Springfield.

This 5th annual World Polio Day celebrates the birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk, creator of the first vaccine  against polio in 1955.

In 1985, Rotary introduced PolioPlus, a pledge to immunize every child in the world with the polio vaccine and to raise $120 million for the effort. Within three years, Rotary raised more than $287 million to end polio and led the cause to involve the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF.

Ten years ago, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined with Rotary in the fight against polio, agreeing to match every dollar raised by Rotarians with $2.  Four years later, the world thought the last case was reported in India and polio was virtually eliminated.  However, the wild poliovirus came back in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.  So, in June, Rotary agreed to raise $50 million a year for three consecutive years to combat polio, and the Gates Foundation agreed to continue its 2-for-1 match.

In an effort spearheaded by Fred Heilich, chair of the District 6490 Polio Eradication Committee and a member of the Tuscola Rotary Club, billboards will be popping up throughout East Central Illinois proclaiming World Polio Day.  Some District 6490 clubs will be collecting money at busy street corners.  There are Pennies for Polio collections planned in some schools.

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