One generation ago, decades before COVID, a virus even more lethal continued to cripple or take the lives of more than 350,000 children each year – 1,000 children each day. That virus was known as Polio, a fast-spreading disease that could kill or paralyze a child within just a few hours of contact.
Rotarians in the Philippines, soon joined by Rotarians world-wide, took on the challenge of eradicating the world of this devastating disease. Partnering with world health organizations, volunteers embarked upon a mission to vaccinate every child in every country and remote region of the world, sometimes at great risk to themselves. Today, there are less than 100 cases per year, concentrated in Afghanistan and Pakistan where cultural and political barriers continue to exist. The threat remains as the virus could again spread from that region, and as newborns must continue to be immunized throughout the world.
Each October, Rotary International observes World Polio Day in recognition of the efforts made and still required to finally end the threat of polio. As noted by world leaders everywhere, we are “this close” to reaching that goal.
On Saturday, Oct. 23, Putnam County Rotarians will join in the observance of the day by sharing “End Polio Now” balloons and information from 9 to 10 a.m. at each of Putnam County’s three local banks.
Rotary members recognize that many area residents have stories to share of their own experiences growing up with polio, or with those who suffered its effects. PC Rotarian Adriane Shore, who chairs the club’s Polio Committee, shared with fellow members this month that her mother was stricken with polio when she was three years old, surviving and strong enough to overcome her disability and, later in life, an after-effect known as post-polio syndrome. Others are encouraged to share their memories and life stories by emailing PutnamCountyRotary@gmail.com.