LAPS Elementary Students Step Up For Rotary’s Purple Pinkie Polio Awareness Event

Students from the Los Alamos Online Leaning Academy show their purple pinkies. Photo Courtesy Rotary

Students at Barranca Mesa Elementary School wait in line to dip their pinkies in purple ink to show their support for the eradication of polio during the March 24 Rotary Club Purple Pinkie Polio Awareness Campaign event. Photo Courtesy Rotary

Rotary Club of Los Alamos

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos would like to thank all the elementary students and their parents for the generous support they gave to our recent Purple Pinkie Polio Awareness Campaign. For the first time since COVID our club in collaboration with Los Alamos Public Schools worked together to sponsor this event which raises awareness about the disease and its eradication. Its also raises funds for Polio Plus, Rotary International’s program for the world-wide eradication of polio.

For $1 students had the opportunity to dip a little finger into temporary purple dye used to designate children abroad who have been immunized against this crippling disease. The polio vaccination provides double immunization – while there is no cure for polio, there is a safe and effective vaccination. Rotary and its partners have used this vaccination to immunize over 2.5 billion children world-wide.

In 1985, Rotary International began raising funds in an effort to eliminate Polio worldwide.  In 1988 it established the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) which today includes other partners such as the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill Gates & Melinda Foundation, and other government and private groups. Together Rotary International has achieved a 99 percent reduction of Polio worldwide. Our local Rotary Club of Los Alamos has been participating in this effort from the beginning. But this past year the virus was again identified in water sources in New York State, the UK, & Israel. It is still endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  

So, through the Purple Pinkie Project, the Rotary Club of Los Alamos encouraged our young students to be part of the solution. On Friday March 24, collaborating with LAPS, several members and friends of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos visited our elementary schools. Since $1 is the approximate cost to immunize one child from polio, the students were encouraged to bring $1 or more to help with this cause. Their purple pinkies serve as a symbol of one child immunized from Polio. 

Until polio is fully eradicated, Rotarians are raising $50 million a year and donating countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. In our own community, the Rotary Club of Los Alamos raises about $1500 each year through the Purple Pinkie Polio Awareness Campaign and the Purple Polio Glow event held at the Kiwanis Firework display last year. These funds, generously donated by the children and citizens of Los Alamos and White Rock, is then multiplied 3 times by the Rotary Foundation and matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This provides from 4,200 to 4,500 immunizations to children overseas each year.

Rotary is a global network of neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who unite and take action to create lasting change in communities around the world.  Since 1905, Rotarians have sought to improve lives locally and internationally through service.  The Rotary motto, Service Above Self, inspires members to provide humanitarian service, follow high ethical standards, and promote good will and peace.  There are over 1.2 million Rotary members in more than 35,000 clubs worldwide that sponsor service projects to address such critical issues as poverty, disease (especially the eradication of polio), water and sanitation, hunger, illiteracy, and the environment in their local communities and abroad.

If you would like to donate to PolioPlus, please make donations to Rotary Club of Los Alamos, PO Box 853, Los Alamos, NM  87544.  If you would like to learn more about Rotary and how you can make a positive difference in the world, please contact President Alison Pannell 505-570-0629.