Two donations from the Warwick Valley Rotary Club to eradicate polio worldwide have tripled in value from $3,500 to $10,500 thanks to a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledge.
Carole Tjoa, District PolioPlus Chair and a former Rotary district governor, informed the club that $2,000 raised at the Rotary-sponsored Citizen of the Year dinner was matched 2:1 by the Gates Foundation, making Warwick’s contribution $6,000. Additionally, Warwick will be credited with a $4,500 donation for a $1,500 club gift to PolioPlus made on Apr. 21 during the annual Rotary district conference.
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. Rotary District Governor James Damiani, who heads the 60-club, eight-county District 7210, updated Rotarians on the battle against polio.
“There were 350,000 cases of the crippling disease in 1986 when Rotary began its quest to eliminate polio worldwide,” said Damiani. “In 2016 there were 35 known cases and last year only a handful of cases were reported. 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 and Roll concert. Almost every year Warwick Valley Rotary has donated funds to the PolioPlus project.