Come Together, Ride Now ~ End Polio

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Rotary cyclist on the El Tour route

Rotary cyclists on the El Tour route

by Gary Hirsch, Rotary District 5500 (Tucson)

2016 begins the fourth decade that Rotary International and its partners, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control committed to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Rotary’s PolioPlus, a global initiative launched in 1985 to eradicate polio from the face of the earth is very close to achieving that goal. In 1985 it was not unusual to see 350,000 cases of polio annually. In 2014, there were fewer than 400 cases. Thus far in 2016 we have logged only 17 cases.

 Jamie Revord of Chicago rode El Tour for Rotary International Photo Courtesy Jamie Revord

Jamie Revord of Chicago rode El Tour for
Rotary International Photo Courtesy Jamie Revord

What role does El Tour de Tucson play? This year marks the eighth year that Rotary District 5500 has participated in El Tour de Tucson as a beneficiary in a ride Rotary calls the Rotary District 5500 Michael Harris Memorial Ride to End Polio. It was Mike who first enrolled the District as a beneficiary in the ride.

That first year, a group of about 25 cyclists raised $35,000 and we thought we were doing great, keeping in that only 60 cents can pay to immunize one child Fast forward to 2015 when 100 cyclists raised more than $14 million, including matching funds from our partners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Rotarians have traveled from as far as India, Australia and the Philippines to ride in this event and cumulatively have accounted for about $25 million in funds to aid the fight against polio. It is difficult to go back through three decades of history, but it appears that El Tour de Tucson/Rotary Ride to End Polio has become one of the largest, if not THE single largest PolioPlus fundraisers in the world.

Who knows what we’ll accomplish in 2016 as we Come Together to Ride Now to End Polio? Click if you wish to register and fundraise for Rotary Ride To End Polio.

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