Ordinary men with extraordinary opportunities.
Rotary just turned 110 years old.  For more than one quarter of its life – 30 years to be exact – Rotary and Rotarians have been in a fight to the death with polio and we ARE winning.  Our official battle known as Polio Plus turned 30 years old this year, but in reality Rotary’s battle with polio has been going on even longer than that.  It really all started back in 1979 when RI President Clem Renouf from Australia envisioned an extraordinary opportunity and set the wheels in motion.  Click on his picture to see a short 3 and a half minute video on how we got involved in the fight to eradicate polio.  
“We are this close.”  You have heard it so often it doesn’t even sink in any more, does it?  Let it sink in……or at least humor me for a few minutes while you read on and maybe, just maybe, it will suddenly hit you….we really are this close!  Maybe if you saw how far we have come, being “this close” will have a lot more meaning.  We’ve been saying we are this close for some time now and over time it can lose its impact on us, but our progress against Polio is quite astounding.  It hasn’t been that long that we have been able to say those four little words.
  • It was just 30 years ago when we officially began our fight against this disease.  Back then 350,000 new cases of polio erupted every year, nearly 1,000 cases each day!
  • It was only 21 years ago that the western hemisphere was declared polio free.  Many of you have children older than that!
  • It was only 15 years ago that the western pacific was declared polio free.
  • It was a mere 13 years ago when Europe was declared polio free.  Some of you have grandchildren older than that!
  • It was only 1 year ago this month that India...one of the final four hotbeds of this debilitating disease…was declared polio free.
Today there are only 250 new cases of polio annually.  That is how close we are.  If we don’t stay the course experts say that in the next 40 years….just four years longer than it has been since the first inkling PRIP Clem Renouf had that Rotarians might be able to do something extraordinary….polio could rebound with over 10 million cases.  We are this close but no battle is really over until we have won.  Click on the hand to see the “This Close” campaign ad (it is short so go ahead and click it!)
So it has been 30 years since we launched Polio Plus:  Happy Birthday!  But just think how much sweeter it will be to celebrate not the birthday of our battle against polio but rather the anniversary of the death of the polio virus in our world.  That’s the cake I want a bite of...and I want a big piece please!  
If you would like to talk about the Rotary Foundation and how you can help support any of the Rotary initiatives including Polio Plus, your Foundation Chair Dave is at your disposal.  We are making history right now and you can be a part of it: End Polio Now.