Rotary Club Of Los Alamos Shares Good News About Polio Eradication

Purple Pinkie Day is Friday, Oct. 26 at Los Alamos elementary schools. Courtesy photo


In honor of World Polio Day, Oct. 24, the Rotary Club of Los Alamos is pleased to share the good news about efforts to eradicate polio worldwide, and inform you about the upcoming Purple Pinkie Polio Awareness Campaign to be held in the Los Alamos Elementary Schools on Friday, Oct. 26

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a highly infectious and disabling disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus is spread person to person, typically through water contaminated with feces from an infected individual or through exposure to mucus when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus attacks the nervous system, often infecting the spinal cord, and can cause paralysis.  Most commonly it affects children under the age of five.  Although there is no cure, there is a safe and effective vaccine.

In 1985, Rotary launched PolioPlus, a program focused on defeating polio, and in 1988, Rotary helped establish the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).  Today the GPEI includes the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, all working to immunize the children of the world against polio.

In 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio reported in over 120 countries; this year there have been only 102 reported active cases of wild polio in just two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Nigeria was declared polio-free in June of this year. All of Africa was declared polio-free on August 25.

In recognition of this extraordinary accomplishment, TIME magazine selected Rotary’s Nigerian PolioPlus chairman, Dr. Tunji Funsho, as one of its 2020 100 Most Influential People. Funsho has been a Rotarian for 35 years and vividly recalls the days when over 75,000 African children were diagnosed with polio every year.  He remarks, “One thing I know for certain is if Nigeria could eliminate the wild poliovirus, any country can eliminate it.”

Until polio is fully eradicated, Rotary is raising up to $50 million a year for the effort.  These funds will be matched by an additional $100 million annually from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  In addition, Rotary has played a major role in encouraging nations around the world to contribute more than $10 billion to the effort.  Those countries include England, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, and Spain.  This funding is providing much-needed operational support, medical staff, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents.

To date, Rotary itself has contributed more than $2.1 billion and countless volunteer hours to protecting more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.

In our own community, the Rotary Club of Los Alamos raises between $1400 and $1500 for polio eradication each year through the Purple Pinkie campaign at the Los Alamos Public Schools and community donations.  This amount, generously provided by the children and citizens of Los Alamos and White Rock, is then multiplied three times by The Rotary Foundation thus providing between 4,200 and 4,500 immunizations to children overseas each year.  Our local club this year will join many others and hold the Purple Pinkie campaign in local elementary schools. Please look for the flyers to come home in your child’s backpack soon and help us support this valiant effort to rid the world of this devastating virus. We are so close to success.

Rotary is a global network of neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers that 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.

For more information about polio eradication, please go to or

If you would like to donate to PolioPlus, you may make tax-deductible donations to LA Rotary 1312, PO Box 986, 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 Tim Bullock,303 552-7099 or Membership Chair Linda Bullock, (303) 552-7101.