Local Rotary Clubs have helped in worldwide fight against polio

Photo from Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority: The Peace Bridge will be lit in purple this evening to honor Rotary’s long fight to eradicate Polio worldwide. After people are vaccinated in developing countries, their pinkie is dipped in purple to show that it was done.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 October 2018 at 11:19 am


Local service clubs take great pride in helping to boost their local communities, by helping put on festivals and many other family-friendly events. The local service clubs also raise money and give the bulk of that to local efforts, often supporting youth sports teams, families in crisis from an unexpected medical challenge, or they take the lead with a public arts project, just to name a few.

However, many of the service clubs are part of world-wide organizations, such as Rotary International or Lions Clubs International, and some of the annual dues and other fundraisers go to support humanitarian efforts around the globe.

Orleans County has three Rotary Clubs, and today Rotary International is celebrating  World Polio Day, which recognizes a 30-plus year effort by Rotary to eradicate polio. Rotary has spent $1.8 billion bringing the vaccine to 2.5 billion children in 122 countries around the world and is nearly complete in its fight. This year, there have been 16 new polio cases identified in Afghanistan and four in Pakistan.

When people in developing countries receive the vaccine, they dip their pinkies in purple to show they have been immunized.

Today at 7 p.m. the Peace Bridge will be lit up in purple to signify the success of Rotary’s polio campaign. The bridge over the Niagara River connects Buffalo to Fort Erie, Canada.

Rotarians in Albion, Holley and Medina can feel a sense of pride for helping in this effort. Polio, about two generations ago, was a scourge in the United States, often resulting in paralysis and death. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the former president, was diagnosed with polio when he was 39 and was paralyzed from the waist down.

Today it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the power of service organizations and the good they do when they unite in a common cause around the world. Rotary, the Lions Clubs and others are able to transcend politics, national boundaries, religious differences and other obstacles that can get in the way of important humanitarian work.

For more on World Polio Day, click here.

(Editor’s Note: Orleans Hub publisher Karen Sawicz and Hub editor Tom Rivers are both members of the Albion Rotary Club.)