End Polio Now funds vaccinations
“A lot of people don’t know that we didn’t get rid of polio in America until 1979,” said Doyle Clark, accountant and Rotarian. Valley Rotary clubs are collaborating with each other and working with the global effort to entirely eradicate and end polio by 2020.
In the 1950s, the Valley was hard hit by a deadly polio epidemic. Three children from one family died within a week. Local hospitals turned whole wings into polio wards with iron lungs to care for patients of all ages and socio-economic levels. The current director of Sunny Glen’s Children Home in San Benito was 15 when he contracted polio and was placed into an iron lung.
In the past 30 years, polio cases have dropped 99.9 percent, and 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated. Polio remains wild in only three countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. “Part of the problem of eradicating polio is getting vaccines to worn-torn countries that have hard-to-get-to places and misinformation,” Clark said.
In partnership with UNICEF, WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many other organizations, Rotary International’s End Polio Now has been active for three decades. The campaign contributes by raising funds to operate the vaccination program. “It is the spirit of giving that has helped get this far,” Clark said.
Contributions this year have reached $20,000 in the Valley. Besides individuals donations, businesses are sponsoring the End Polio night at the Vipers vs Salt Lake City Stars game March 25. During halftime, six Valley mayors will compete in a free-throw contest.
“The Vipers End Polio night puts people in a situation where they can bring family and friends to watch the game, while raising awareness and money to end polio,” Clark said. Valley businesses that are sponsoring the event include Safe-Lite Auto Glass, Cardone Industries, Boggus Ford, Omnibus Express, Golden Palms Retirement Center, Lone Star Bank and Trophy Plus. Dr. Martin Kuye, a native of Nigeria, where 40 children were paralyzed by polio last year, is another sponsor.
It’s not only businesses that have contributed to the polio eradication campaign. Students in one class at Rueben Hinojosa Elementary School in Mission raised $500 to purchase a sponsorship. Jane Cross of Edinburg donated her sponsorship tickets to the students so they could all attend the Vipers game.
For more information, call Doyle Clark at 244-0699.
This story by Eileen Mattei appears in the March 2017 edition of Valley Business Report