This month marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Jonas Salk.
In 1957, Salk changed world history by developing the vaccine against polio, an infectious, virus-based disease, according to the World Health Organization. When the vaccine was introduced, polio was considered the greatest post-war threat to public health. In 1952, of the nearly 60,000 children who were reported infected that year, more than 3,000 people died, according to ideastream.org.
The WHO website says polio attacks the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a short period of time. The disease can be prevented, but there is no cure.
Soon after Salk released his vaccine, Dr. Albert Sabin developed an oral version of the vaccine, which today has led to a global effort to immunize the world and eradicate the polio virus once and for all, per ideastream.org. According to the WHO, polio cases have decreased by over 99 percent since 1988, when there was a reported 350,000 cases in more than 125 countries. As of this year, the WHO has listed only three countries left where polio still is endemic: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Ideastream.org says there have been no new cases of polio in the United States since 1979. But there are many people today still living with the effects of this terrible disease.
In 1985, Rotary joined the fight against polio with the inception of the PolioPlus program. The goal of PolioPlus is to immunize every child under the age of 5 against this crippling disease. As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation also has joined the effort to eradicate polio worldwide, matching all donations 2 to 1.
You can go to endpolio.org to learn more about this program and make a donation. Or you can make a difference this Saturday and join us for Rotary Day at the Station Exchange in Richmond Hill, directly across from the entrance to J.F. Gregory Park. The early evening event starts with Pacing for Polio, a 5K run for people of all ages and abilities. The run starts at
6 p.m. in the park. That will be followed by post-race activities at The Station Exchange, which include awards, food and beverages, music and live entertainment by Exit 76. There also will be local Rotary members on hand to share and promote all the good things that the club is doing locally and abroad.
All the proceeds from Pacing for Polio will be donated to Rotary’s PolioPlus initiative. Bring your lawn chair and please consider joining us this Saturday for an evening run followed by Rotary fun.
Call DeLong at 912-531-7867 or go to www.thesuitesatstationexchange.com.