Bob Rogers, District Gov. Nominee, polio survivor
End Polio Now!
Bob Rogers, District Gov. Nominee, polio survivor
Bob is a member of the Sebastopol Club and is here today to speak about Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio around the world.
Bob himself is a polio survivor.  Bob has been a member of Rotary since 2007 and was the President of the Sebastopol Club in the 2013-2014 Rotary year. In 2011 he joined the Polio Plus Committee of District 5130.
Bob contracted polio at age 5 and was hospitalized for a brief period of time. With a great deal of therapy he was able to regain much of his function and now is able to walk without any assistive devices and only a hint of a limp, in which he takes some pride. It serves him as a reminder of the presence of polio and its devastating effects, and helps to open discussions with other people who may not be as familiar with the disease.
Bob has been interested and committed to working with Rotary's programs eliminate polio from the world.
Rotary's involvement with polio elimination began in 1978 when then President Clem Renouf was looking for a corporate project for the Rotary. He ultimately worked with Rotarians in the Philippines in a project to eliminate polio from that nation. This was at the same time that smallpox had finally been eliminated from the world and he thought that it would be great if the same thing could happen for polio. He presented the concept to Rotarian John Sever, M.D., head of the Infectious Disease division at the National Institutes of Health and a close friend of Dr. Sabin who had invented the oral polio vaccine. They spoke about a project to eliminate polio in the next 7 or 8 years. Vaccine was cheap and all they needed was a mechanism for distribution. In 1985 with the help of Carlos Canseco Rotary International formed the Polio 2005 Committee, later to become Polio Plus, with the goal of eliminating polio from the world by 2005, the 100th anniversary of Rotary International.
By 1987 Rotary had raised over $247 million to help with this effort. They approached the World Health Organization and the United Nations who signed onto the program. Within months of launching the program, 200 million children were immunized in two days in China, 100 million in one day in India and over 13 million in one day in Mexico. The program was well on its way to success.
At the present time polio exists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Africa has actually been free from polio since December of last year. The focus in Pakistan and Afghanistan is on the border between these 2 countries. Each of the remaining pockets of endemic polio is involved in the area of conflict making it difficult for immunization workers to provide their services.
Funds are still needed to help with this ongoing eradication effort. Rotary International is in a matching program with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For $1 raised by Rotary International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $2 to the cause of eliminating polio. Bob encouraged all members to be as generous as possible to help capitalize on this wonderful opportunity to make each dollar of their contribution go 3 times as far towards eliminating this disease.
Bob is asking each member to pledge $25-$100 to the Polio Plus campaign this year to provide adequate funding to get the job done and to be able to claim that polio has been eliminated by 2015. It will take another 3 years of immunizing every newborn child in the world against polio before we can be absolutely sure that it is indeed gone. Please be generous with your contributions to Polio Plus.