Rotary Clubs Light Up the World to End Polio


<p>World landmarks will carry Rotary's End Polio Now pledge during the week of <span class="xn-chron">Feb. 23</span></p>
<p>EVANSTON, Ill., <span class="xn-chron">Feb. 16</span> /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- What do the Egyptian Pyramid of Khafre, <span class="xn-location">Buenos Aires</span>' Obelisk, and Chicago's Wrigley Building have in common?</p>
<p>Each of these iconic landmarks will provide a dramatic backdrop for an equally dramatic message: End Polio Now. Those three words -- representing Rotary's pledge to rid the world of this crippling childhood disease -- will be projected onto each structure during the week surrounding <span class="xn-chron">Feb. 23</span>, the humanitarian service organization's 105th anniversary.</p>
<p>"By lighting these historic landmarks with Rotary's pledge to end polio, Rotary is saying to the world that we will fight this disease to the end," says Glenn E. Estess, Sr., chair of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.</p>
<p>The End Polio Now illumination of the pyramid is particularly symbolic because ancient Egyptian artwork carried the earliest known depictions of people disabled by polio.  In 2006, <span class="xn-location">Egypt</span> was declared polio-free, leaving only four polio-endemic countries: <span class="xn-location">Afghanistan</span>, <span class="xn-location">India</span>, <span class="xn-location">Nigeria</span> and <span class="xn-location">Pakistan</span>.</p>
<p>Other sites scheduled for illumination include <span class="xn-location">Taipei</span> Arena, <span class="xn-location">Taiwan</span>; Cathedral of <span class="xn-location">Santiago</span> de Compostela in Galicia, <span class="xn-location">Spain</span>; Old Port Captain's Office on the V&A Waterfront in <span class="xn-location">Cape Town</span>, <span class="xn-location">South Africa</span>, with Table Mountain as the backdrop; Obelisk of <span class="xn-location">Buenos Aires</span>, <span class="xn-location">Argentina</span>; Lake Marathon Dam overlooking the Marathon Memorial Battlefield in <span class="xn-location">Greece</span>; Royal Palace of Caserta in <span class="xn-location">Italy</span>; and in the city of Rotary's founding 105 years ago, Chicago's famous Wrigley Building.</p>
<p>Polio eradication has been Rotary's top priority for more than two decades. Great progress has been made, with the incidence of polio infection down from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 2,000 in 2009. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 pediatric deaths.</p>
<p>Rotary members worldwide have contributed more than <span class="xn-money">$900 million</span> and countless volunteer hours and are now working aggressively to raise another <span class="xn-money">$200 million</span> to match a <span class="xn-money">$355 million</span> challenge grant from the Bill & <span class="xn-person">Melinda Gates</span> Foundation.</p>
<p>Rotary is a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, along with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.</p>

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