WARWICK – A $4,000 donation from the Warwick Valley Rotary Club to eradicate polio worldwide has tripled in value to $12,000, thanks to a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledge.
Carole Tjoa, District PolioPlus chair and a former Rotary district governor, informed almost 100 persons who attended this year’s Warwick Citizen of the Year ceremony on Oct. 26, at the Landmark Inn, that $4,000 raised at the Rotary-sponsored dinner was matched 2:1 by the Gates Foundation, making Warwick’s contribution worth $12,000.
Polio, once a dreaded disease which crippled hundreds of thousands annually, is nearing eradication worldwide. And Warwickians have played a part in this decades-long project.
There were 350,000 cases of the crippling disease in 1986 when Rotary began its quest to eliminate polio worldwide. In 2021 there were less than 100 cases reported worldwide. Because of the global effort to eradicate the disease, more than 16 million people have been saved from paralysis.
Warwick Rotarians have been active with Rotary International’s PolioPlus project from the start. During the presidency of Leo Kaytes, Sr., in 1986-87, the club raised more than $10,000 with fundraisers, including a rock concert. Almost every year Warwick Valley Rotary has donated funds to the PolioPlus project.
In what is hopefully a final effort to eliminate polio, Rotarians from 35,000 clubs internationally are seeking to raise $15 million in a matching grant challenge from the Gates Foundation.
They are part of The Global Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership led by national governments with five core partners – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.