Working to ‘End Polio Now’ |

Working to ‘End Polio Now’

The Rotary Clubs of Western County — Grass Valley, Penn Valley, 49er, Nevada City and Nevada County South — got together for the photo to tell people that the Rotary Clubs of United States raised money to fight polio and are that close to stop the spreading of the disease. Members of the Nevada Union Interact Club were also on hand to help raise awareness.
John Hart/ | The Union

World Polio Day activities

Friday, Oct. 24

KNCO Interview with Rotary’s Dr. Bob Scott, past Chair of the International Polio Committee – 11 a.m. to noon

End Polio Now Donation Event at the Fowler Center outside of B&C True Value – 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

End Polio Now/Make History Today Livestream Event on – 4:30 p.m.

The Rotary Club of Nevada County South hopes to eliminate a deadly disease on Friday, when it hosts a donation event as a part of Rotary International’s World Polio Day.

Although advancements in health care and vaccines have cut new cases of polio to near-extinction, transmission in Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan has continued. Rotary International, a humanitarian service organization that consists of nearly 34,000 clubs in over 200 countries, established polio eradication as its foremost priority in 1985.

Since then, the Rotarians have contributed over a billion dollars and continue to volunteer their time in the push to immunize children.

“The campaign this year has a theme: ‘We’re this close.’ (That’s) the key issue,” said Mike Austin, public relations officer for Rotary Club of Nevada County South. “Rotary, along with the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and a whole bunch of other very large international organizations, has spearheaded this whole thing for many years now and has succeeded in eliminating polio from 99 percent of the globe.”

A funding gap, Austin says, has cut immunization campaigns in high-risk countries and has allowed polio to linger.

If no action is taken, a polio comeback could occur and affect an estimated 200,000 children each year.

“It exists in (Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan) for a lot of different reasons both political and cultural. So Rotary has focused on these three countries, and all of our fundraising efforts this year are going to be dedicated to getting rid of polio in those countries,” Austin said. “From what I’ve been told and what I’ve read, because the world is so much closer together now with transportation and people crossing borders easily and things like that, if (polio) is allowed to continue in those countries there are people in science who have suggested that it could go endemic again in other countries and would actually spread rapidly. So it’s more than just the emotional comfort of eliminating 99 percent of it; if we don’t get this last 1 percent, it could come back again.

“It probably could never come back in the developed world because it hasn’t been there for quite a while,” he added. “But it would come back in the undeveloped world, not just the three countries it is in now. So it’s an important thing for that part of the world, and it’s an important thing historically, I think.”

The fundraiser will held at the Fowler Center outside of B&C True Value in Grass Valley from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Members of the Rotary Club and the Bear River High School Interact Club will be manning tables outside, passing out literature in the parking lot and soliciting donations.

Nevada County South hasn’t set a goal for the amount of money it wants to raise, but Austin said a child can be protected from polio for life with as little as 60 cents worth of oral vaccine.

“We’ve never done it before in my 10 years here, so (we want to raise) as much as we can,” he said. “It is a worldwide event. There are 1.2 million Rotarians that in some form or fashion will be involved in it. All of the clubs, on that particular day, are geared to focusing on polio to try and get that last 1 percent.”

Spencer Kellar is an intern with The Union; he can be reached at

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