Rotarians, partners, children – even family pets – gathered at Tench Reserve on the Nepean River, Penrith on Sunday morning, October 22 to take part in a special observance to mark World Polio Day on October 24.
A spectacular parade of almost 100 people with the words “End Poli Now” emblazoned on their bright red t-shirts enjoyed a three kilometre stroll in brilliant morning sunshine – much to the interest of early morning joggers and diners.
Rotary clubs of Penrith, Penrith Valley, Nepean, Lower Blue Mountains and Springwood were all represented in the walk, broken half way by a pause to plant a tree on the river bank to mark the Global Polio Eradication Initiative involving Rotary International, the World Health Organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several other major partners.
The tree planting also marks the Rotary International Presidency of Australian Ian Riseley OAM in 2017/18 – the fifth Australian to lead the world’s oldest service club organisation.
Rotary’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative is on the brink of ultimate success with only 12 cases of the Wild Polio Virus reported so far in 2017 in just two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan. The downward trend has been impressive in recent years – 359 cases in 2014, 74 cases in 2015, and 37 cases last year,
The cost of ultimate success is huge. Rotary has invested US$1.9 billion in the campaign with clubs throughout Australia and New Zealand heavily involved in ongoing fundraising. Costs are not confined to the manufacture of serum but also the cost of ongoing surveillance to ensure no children in any part of developing countries are overlooked. Governments of the world have also invested billions in the campaign and ultimate success will result in vast savings for the world economy.
Chris and Carol Bennett, owners of the Nepean Belle Paddle Boat, generously hosted walkers and families to a genuine Aussie breakfast, at the end of the walk – and treated walkers to their own private cruise on the Nepean River.
Chris Bennett said he and Carol had a tremendous respect for Rotary and were proud to offer their support to this significant celebration.