Many other Rotarians in Rotary District 7190 in New York jump into Lake George as part of the Polio Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day, but Fischer, on vacation, put a new twist on the annual Plunge by going in the ocean off the South Carolina coast. Fischer reports that it was ‘pretty darn chilly.’
Although the United States has been polio-free for many years, polio was one of the most feared diseases paralyzing thousands of children every year. In the 1950s and 1960s, soon after the introduction of the Salk and Sabin vaccines, polio was brought under control in this country. Once worldwide immunization was introduced in the 1970’s, many nations became polio-free. But many countries, primarily in Africa and Asia, were unable to bring this dread disease under control.
In 1985 Rotary International made a promise to the children of the world to eradicate polio forever. Since that time billions of dollars have been donated for vaccine and educational programs. Currently only three countries remain endemic: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. India reaches the two-year polio-free mark this month.
Partnering with UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the CDC and more recently with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary continues to lead the way to final eradication.