The story of how Rotary International got involved in polio eradication is one of forward thinking, taking action, controversy and daring to dream. It runs the gamut of several visionary RI Presidents, key players such as Dr.John Sever of the National Institute of Health, meetings in Evanston with Dr. Albert Sabin and the cooperation and volunteer service from 1.2 million Rotarians around the world. It’s a story that begins in 1978 and continues on today. It’s a complicated story about raising almost one billion dollars, stopping wars and working in remote parts of the world. It’s a story where over two billion children are alive today and polio free. It’s a story everyone must know and tell.
Some background information to keep in mind: in the 1950’s there were over 500,000 cases annually of polio worldwide Each year fifty thousand children would die and thousands more would be crippled or suffer permanent disability. Even with the Salk and Sabin vaccines that eventually protected the children in the United States, most countries still had thousands of case of polio on into the 1960’s and 1970’s.
And in 1978 some controversial things were happening in Rotary. The Rotary Club of Duarte, California had their charter cancelled for admitting three women to membership!! That’s another story for another time.
Now, although I could tell this story I would like you to experience it through the words of PRIPresident Cliff Dochterman (1992-1993). Please click HERE to read this compelling story.
If you are interested in Rotary history consider joining the Rotary Global History Fellowship.