September 16, 2009

Downtown Rotarians raising pennies to fight polio

The world is on the brink of eradicating polio by the year 2013, and the Rotary Club of Downtown Racine is asking students and Party-on-the-Pavement goers to help.

For decades, Rotary International (founded by Racine native Paul P. Harris) has been fighting the spread of polio. The disease primarily strikes children under 5 and can render them paralyzed within hours. Polio only remains in four countries – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

To wipe out polio completely, world health organizers must not only eradicate the contagious disease in these four countries, but keep polio from spreading back into polio-free areas. It is a daunting task.

But the remedy is simple. Four doses of the oral polio vaccine administered to an infant in the first-year of life can prevent the disease. Getting the vaccine into less-developed countries and educating people about its necessity are the challenges.

Rotarians around the world have actively raised money to provide for the manufacture and distribution of the vaccine. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave Rotarians an extra incentive: the foundation awarded Rotary International a challenge grant worth $150 million. All Rotary International has to do to get that sum is to raise to raise $200 million by June 30, 2012.

One dose of polio vaccine is not expensive – one thin dime.

Downtown Rotarians invite their fellow Racinians to wipe out this paralyzing disease in our lifetime.

This week, classrooms and day care centers around Racine will be invited to compete in raising “Pennies for Polio.” They will have two weeks to bring their contributions to the classroom to help fight polio. To enter the contest, a classroom representative must bring the classroom collection to the Downtown Rotary booth in front of Lakeview Pharmacy at Party on the Pavement between noon and 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3. The classroom that raises the most will win a picnic at the Racine Zoo, complete with a zoo animal demonstration from Rotarian and Zoo Director Jay Christie.

Other Party on the Pavement visitors can join in the effort. The Downtown Rotary booth will include information about eradicating polio. Donors at the booth can get a pinky finger painted purple as a symbol of their support. Painting a pinky fingernail purple is how health workers in the Third World determine who has received a polio vaccine.

To learn more about Rotary International’s polio work, visit their website. For more information about Pennies for Polio, contact Laura Sumner Coon at 498-9425 or Mike Holmes at 554-5441.


  1. Maybe they can get some of the Children's Museum penny's. Give Jess Levin a call.