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Presidential message

Ian H.S. Riseley, President 2017-18

October 2017

Some years ago in the Melbourne, Australia, museum where my daughter used to work, an iron lung was on display. For most people my age who remembered the terrifying polio epidemics of the 1950s, that iron lung was a testament to how far vaccination had brought us: to the point where that once-critical piece of medical equipment had literally become a museum piece.

For much of the world, the story of polio is a simple one: After years of fear, a vaccine was developed and a disease was conquered. But for some of the world, the story was different. In so many countries, the vaccine wasn’t available, mass vaccination was too expensive, or children simply couldn’t be reached. While the rest of the world relegated polio to its museums, in these countries, the disease continued to rage – until Rotary stepped forward and said that all children, no matter where they lived or what their circumstances, deserved to live free of polio.

In the years since PolioPlus was launched, the combined efforts of Rotary, the governments of the world, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have brought the number of cases of polio down from an estimated 350,000 per year to just a few so far in 2017. But we must reach zero cases, and stay there, to achieve eradication. To do that, we need everyone’s help.

On 24 October, we will mark World Polio Day. It is a day to celebrate how far we have come and an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness and funds to complete the work of eradication.  I ask every Rotary club to participate in some way in World Polio Day activities, and I encourage you to visit endpolio.org for ideas and to register your event. Whether you host a silent auction, a virtual reality viewing, a fundraising walk, or a Purple Pinkie Day, your club can make a real difference.

This year, our World Polio Day livestream event will take place at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle; you can watch it on endpolio.org beginning at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time. As many of you know, Rotary has committed to raising $50 million a year for the next three years. This amount will be matched 2-to-1 by the Gates Foundation – effectively tripling the value of all money Rotary raises on World Polio Day and throughout the year. Let’s all make a difference on World Polio Day – and help End Polio Now.


Message from President Kristi:

Thank you so much for your help and support of such a wonderful event!  I was told by many residents that this was the best event the building has ever had and the residents were so touched by Rotary's kindness and generosity.  The rec deck is normally empty with no life.  I couldn't believe its transformation that day.  It was filled with children's laughter playing in three bouncy houses, a crowd of people enjoying the libations, two bands playing great music, people enjoying the delicious food, dancing, and having a wonderful time.  I felt overwhelmed with happiness hearing the many comments of how much they needed this and seeing the love and aloha shared by those who attended.


One of the residents emailed that night saying, "We were lost and you took us in to paraphrase an ancient scripture.  The humanity evidenced these past four weeks has been extremely humbling; our gratitude to you for stepping up, giving a boost and having our backs.  Kindly pass along our thanks to all involved today.  Mahalo nui loa.  WILL"


Below is a pic of our hard working Rotarians (Naomi's husband was helping too).  Also, thank you Wes for donating wine, Kahu Vaughn for stopping by and donating sushi, and Val for your generous donation.  



What is it like taking a large team to Africa?  It has probably been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. In mid February, I began leading Rotary members from all over the East Coast of the United States through Ghana. I’ve tried to give the team a warm Ghanaian welcome like I’ve received on my earlier trips. A large trip is a real blessing because each person sees Ghana and our work in a different way.
Throughout India and around the world, Rotary clubs are celebrating a major milestone: India has gone three years without a new case of polio. The last reported case was a two-year-old girl in West Bengal on 13 January 2011. To mark this historic triumph, Rotary clubs illuminated landmarks and iconic structures throughout the country with four simple but powerful words, "India is polio free."

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