Joe Beaver retired from the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) after a 40 year career. During his tenure with the CDC, Joe worked with the Immunization Division. He was involved in the investigation of two polio outbreaks in the US: 1 in CT and the other in PA. One of the highlights was that he also worked with CDC when they developed a global strategy to eradicate polio, and this is where Rotary International comes into play.
In 1979, Rotary International teamed with CDC to help eradicate polio across the globe. They developed “Stop Transmission of Polio” or “STOP” for short. This is where stop teams from the CDC and Rotary International volunteers literally strapped on backpacks filled with the medication and went door to door in polio-ridden countries to immunize villagers across the world.
One arm of Rotary International is the Paul Harris Society – named after Rotary’s founder, an arm of Rotary whereby a Rotarian makes a $1,000 donation to the Rotary International Foundation. This money is put into the Foundation, where it earns interest for three years, after which it is used for the eradication of polio, as well as educational programs and fresh drinking water systems for third world countries, along with other medical and educational uses. In addition, those monies provide Shelter Boxes for families when disasters strike worldwide. In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation began its two-to-one match for every dollar given by Rotarians worldwide.
There is a new Rotary International campaign to spread awareness about the eradication of polio. You may have seen television commercials or magazine ads entitled “We are now ‘This Close'” to achieving a polio-free world, in which more than 40 public figures, as well as celebrities have signed on to help communicate the goal, including Bill Gates, Ziggy Marley, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jack Nicklaus (just to name a few). Today, there are only 4 countries in the entire world where polio has yet to be eradicated. So, we really and truly are “This Close” to ending polio – all we need now is YOU! For more information on this, please visit www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/rotary-foundation.