Letter: From Putnam County Rotary; Polio Awareness Month

Black Keyboard - Letter to the Editor

Hello Putnam County Record Readers,

Well, fall is here with Rotary projects in full swing. FundraIsing, Road Apple Bingo and the Back to school Interact picnic were all fun and successful. Now, October brings Polio Awareness to the forefront of Rotary International, Putnam County Rotary and all Rotary clubs around the world who, for over 35 years, have worked tirelessly to eradicate Polio.

The first major polio outbreak in the United States was in 1916. Over 6,000 died with thousands more being paralyzed … with most victims being children. In 1929 the “iron lung” was invented that prolonged the life of many polio patients whose lungs were so damaged they could no longer breathe on their own. And it wasn’t until 1953 that the first polio vaccine was created and used to start to help eradicate this crippling disease in the United States.

In 1980 Rotary and the World Health Organization launched a Global Polio eradication initiative. And between 1988 and 2020 over 800 million children were vaccinated against polio. By 2011 the money raised exceeded $1 billion when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matched every rotary dollar 2 to 1.

In 2000 I had the honor of going to India as part of a Rotary Group Study exchange team. And it wasn’t meeting and discussing domestic violence laws with the Supreme Court Justices of the Indian Court that is my most memorable part of that trip.

It is going into the slums of New Delhi to help vaccinate children against Polio that will forever be my favorite memory of India. All of those beautiful, trusting children lining up to get the drops that would protect them from becoming “crippled outcasts.”

Then traveling back into the city to tour a “Polio Hospital” where adults lived in iron lungs and children waiting for surgery to correct leg, foot, and hip deformities. My team sat with the doctors who all explained why they chose to work there … ”to make a difference in the life of a child.” It was truly a life changing day for me.

So with that little bit of Polio history … on Monday, Oct. 24, Putnam County Rotarians will be presenting a program-at Putnam County Junior High to educate, share and even teach the students about polio.

We will describe Rotary’s part in helping to eradicate polio and before we leave we will be “painting pinkies purple.” In countries around the world as each child is vaccinated, their pinky nail is swabbed with gentian violet dye so the child will not be vaccinated again by the next group coming to vaccinate. Most of these children wave that purple fingertip as a badge of honor and are so proud to have it!

For me polio. is the clicking of leg braces going up and down the stairs of Standard Grade School and a cane hitting the floor as they supported Mr. Marchesi on his checking of each class throughout the day. Parents, on Monday Oct. 24, be sure to talk to your Junior High students about what they learned about Polio and the story of my own hero, Mr. Delmo Marchesi.

This month is one of my favorite months of the Rotary year. I hope everyone has a great month, maybe those old enough look at the small round scar on their arm and remember the fear polio caused in the 1950′s and 60′s. We’ve come a long way to eradicate the horrible disease of Polio.

Don’t forget the High School Interact Grange Halloween party for the kids at the McNabb Fire Department, Saturday Oct. 22, 2 to 4 p.m. Admission is $2 or two canned goods. There will be a costume parade with prizes, games, activities and refreshments for all children attending. Happy Halloween everyone!

Remember … Service Above Self

Debbie Buffington

President Putnam County Rotary