One of the world’s first service organizations started with one man in Chicago. In the last century, it has grown to well over a million members. Today marks the 109th birthday of Rotary International.
More than a dozen clubs meet once a week in the metro. Together, they are working to rid the world of an infectious disease.
“If everybody contributes a little bit, pretty soon you have a lot of money and that’s what we’ve done with polio eradication efforts,” says Rotary Club of Northwest Des Moines President Ed Arnold.
The world is 99% polio free. Rotary has set its sights on the remaining 1% with the “End Polio Now” campaign. Over the years, contributions from Iowans helped vaccinate 250,000 children.
“We are not safe from it. It is a plane ride away,” says Rotary Club of Northwest Des Moines member Diana Reed.
In 2007, Reed traveled to Nigeria. She went door to door in remote villages to vaccinate children.
“The two drops that are in the vial supply a lifetime of immunization for the children that we administer them to,” she says.
Reed gave hundreds of children those two life-saving drops. The experience still stays with her to this day.
“It’s passionate, emotional experience and it’s something that you don’t get over,” says Reed.
“People worldwide want the same thing. They want what’s best for their kids and that’s kind of what Rotary helps promote,” says Arnold.
That’s why these Iowans take great pride in being part of a service organization helping people around the world ..109 years and counting.
The “End Polio Now” campaign set a goal to eliminate the infectious disease by 2018.