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Hagerstown Rotarians hear update on polio

November 29, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Members of the Hagerstown Rotary Club recently attended the Rotary International District 7350 and 7370 combined annual Rotary Foundation dinner at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center in State College.

Rotarians were welcomed by 7350 District Gov. Melinda Golden and 7370 District Gov. Alice Kissinger, heard updates on the progress Rotary is making to eradicate polio, recognized individual Rotarians and clubs for their support and contributions to the Rotary Foundation to help fund and carry out humanitarian projects worldwide, and were entertained by magician Richard Benninghoff.

Hagerstown Rotarians attending the dinner included past District Gov. Ronald Keyser and his wife Cathy, Al Smith, and Vivienne Smith.

Ronald Keyser, district treasurer, presented an update to Rotarians about Rotary International's progress to eradicate polio worldwide. He said that in 1985 when Rotary launched its PolioPlus program more than 350,000 cases of polio were reported every year with approximately 1,000 children infected by the disease every day in 125 countries. Since then, the number of reported cases has been reduced to less than 900 cases per year, and by the end of 2010, only four countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria, were still not polio-free.

Rotary's polio vaccination program is known as "PolioPlus" because additional vaccines are often given to fight five other diseases that strike children including diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, measles and tuberculosis, he said.

Keyser said that over the past 25 years, Rotarians and their partners, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have immunized more than 2 billion children with oral polio vaccine, an estimated 250,000 polio-related deaths have been prevented; and 5 million children destined to be polio victims are walking today and enjoying a better life because of global immunization efforts.

Keyser praised the 44 Rotary clubs in the district for raising $264,000 to date toward a June 2012 goal of $300,000 to continue Rotary's work to wipe polio off the face of the Earth and deliver Rotary's promise of providing children a world free of polio.

The Rotary Club of Hagerstown meets Wednesdays at noon at Fountain Head Country Club, 13316 Fountain Head Road in Hagerstown.

For more information, call Hagerstown club President David C. Hanlin at 301-573-5380 or send an email to d.hanlin@myactv.net.

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