Rotary Club of Marshall
"Where SERVICE is always Center Stage"

A Marshall Rotarian's Story

 
“TWO BUSES CRASHED YESTERDAY: ALL PASSENGERS EITHER DEAD OR CRIPPLED FOR LIFE”
A MARSHALL ROTARIAN’S STORY
 
In the year 1985 the onset of paralysis was confirmed in more than 35,000 new cases of POLIO (poliomyelitis) by the World Health Organization.  That equates to almost a hundred human lives crippled by POLIO every day of the year; the equivalent of two greyhound buses, fully loaded, crashing and killing ten percent of the passengers and crippling the rest of them for life. But, there were no headlines like the one above, or breaking news on the major TV channels back then.  Imagine how the newspapers and TV-News shows would handle a story like that TODAY, day after day forever?
 
There were no headlines then or now because most of the victims of that disease were, and still are, scattered and isolated; living in dirty and dangerous places; living helpless, hopeless lives of poverty and ignorance; so their personal tragedies never even made the news, much less the front page or "Breaking News" status, but, someone did notice and care then. One million Rotarians cared and furthermore did something grand! 
 
The 1986-87 president of Rotary International M.A.T. Caparas, a member of the Rotary club of Manila, chose as his theme “Rotary Brings Hope”.  Under his leadership Rotary International committed to make that theme a reality for the children of the Philippines. Three years later, Rotary started it’s crusade against this invisible enemy, a world-wide war if you will, on Infantile Paralysis (POLIO).  At the time I was almost fifty years old, had been a Rotarian in the Marshall Rotary club less than five years.   I was convinced that Rotary was a really great civic club (still am).  It was great to be a Rotarian then (still is).  To my surprise, however, I learned that it was more than just a great civic club.  It was an army, and it was declaring war on POLIO, and, what’s more, I had been drafted. 
 The first battle of the war was in the Philippines, where, in 1985 a Rotary Foundation 3H grant funded the first mass immunization of babies and young children.  The project was a success and three years later, at the Rotary Convention in Philadelphia, Rotary committed to funding an army of one point two million Rotarians in order to immunize one billion children.  In 1985, I didn't’t understand why everybody was making so much fuss about eradicating POLIO.  After all, POLIO had already been eradicated in America years ago when I was a child.  To my great joy, I found out that day in Philadelphia why the battle against POLIO must be fought and won.  Later, many other organizations, and individuals, even governments joined the fight.
This year, in a little over three months from the first of July, through the end of September, nearly 10,000 children have boarded the same two (virtual) POLIO buses and this time all but nine of them have arrived safely at home.  Nearly thirty years later and about to celebrate my 80th birthday, I am so thrilled to realize that POLIO is almost defeated.  But reaching and protecting that last child, can only be achieved BY CONTINUED IMMUNIZATIONS.  Please give now to help Rotary put an end to this war forever, so that next year REAL headlines will read:
 
“POLIO DEFEATED! NO MORE CHILDREN TO SUFFER OR DIE FROM THIS DISEASE, EVER!”