The inaugural Pints for Polio event hosted by the Rotary Club of Chilliwack raked in more than $15,000 last weekend.
About 110 Rotarians and friends gathered at the Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery for the fundraiser on Feb. 1.
A total of $5,026 was raised to help eradicate polio, but thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which agreed to triple the total by providing matching funds of $10,052, the official total raised was $15,078.
Rotary International has worked with the World Health Organization in the global fight against polio since 1988. At that time, there were an estimated 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries. Since then, cases of the wild polio virus have decreased by 99.9 per cent. Polio is only found in two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan with a total of 168 cases. Teams of Rotarians and other partners regularly go into inhospitable territory to administer the two drops of polio vaccine to children under the age of five.
“It’s easy to think that because we’re so close to eradicating polio, that we don’t need to spend more money on it. That’s exactly when we need to donate,” said Michael Berger, president of the Rotary Club of Chilliwack. “We need to ensure the work gets done everywhere, and that polio doesn’t have an opportunity to re-establish itself.”
He asked attendees to learn more about the disease, share what they’ve learned, and to continue to donate until the disease is gone forever.
The evening also featured three local Rotarians, who shared their personal reflections on the fight against Polio.
John Blessin spoke about the impact of polio on Chilliwack and how people here grew up scared of the disease and were unsure how to prevent it. Carol Tichelman, who travels regularly to Uganda and Ethiopia to administer the polio vaccine, spoke about the shared connection she had with a child’s mother the first time she gave out the vaccine. And Brad Whittaker implored the participants to keep up the fight and explained how Rotary puts the donations into action.
The money raised in Chilliwack will be donated to Rotary’s Polio Plus initiative where it will be used for oral immunizations and continued surveillance efforts to ensure that the disease doesn’t reappear. Once a country has been passed at least three years without a new case, they can be considered safe from the disease.
With the money raised in Chilliwack, over 20,000 children will be vaccinated.
About Chilliwack Rotary: The Rotary Club of Chilliwack is dedicated to improving lives of people, both in the community and around the world. Chartered in 1934, the club is the largest club in Chilliwack with 140 members, and is most known for the Rotary Trail, the Rotary Dinner, the Rotary Garden & Lifestyle Tour, the Rotary Book Sale, and the Rotary Hall at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, and other work and events in the community.