STATE COLLEGE - The five local Rotary clubs are seeking bicycle-riding enthusiasts to "Pedal Out Polio" by joining forces with 39 other clubs in District 7350 to raise funds for The Rotary Foundation's campaign to end polio worldwide.
The clubs of State College Evening, State College Downtown, State College Sunrise, Bellefonte Sunrise, and Pleasant Gap are all participating in the five-day "Rotary Pedals Out Polio" bike ride to begin Wednesday, June 20 in various locations and end Sunday, June 24 in Cross Fork where riders from two Rotary districts will meet. Participants may cycle in all or part of the more than 500-mile, 16-leg ride through West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Both experienced and novice bikers are encouraged to join the ride from Pleasant Gap to Bellefonte to Atherton Street in State College, Thursday, June 21, said Perry Courter, president of the Pleasant Gap club, and Joan Coble, president of Bellefonte Sunrise Club. That leg of the ride is on Route 12 for about 16.1 miles and is estimated to take about 1 hour and 40 minutes to ride. Cyclists can choose to ride any portion of it, or to make a donation of $25 or more by completing a form and submitting a check payable to The Rotary Foundation.
"We are so very close to eradicating polio from the face of the planet," said Carrie Ryan, president of State College Evening Club. "We hope area riders and residents will lend their support to raise funds for vaccine to help rid the world of this paralyzing and deadly disease. A child can be protected from polio for as little as 60 cents worth of vaccine."
According to Cathy Brown, president of State College Downtown Club, Rotarians from around the world and in this district have assisted with National Immunization days in the polio-endemic countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria. They administered oral vaccine to children to prevent them from suffering the paralysis of polio.
Rotary started its program to eradicate polio in 1988, when more than 1,000 children a day or about 350,000 children a year were afflicted with polio in 125 countries worldwide. Today there are less than 1,000 per year, a 99 percent reduction, reported Mike Rice, State College Sunrise Club president.
Rotary Pedals out Polio bike riders will be required to wear helmets, sign an entry/waiver form, make a minimum $25 donation to The Rotary Foundation for each day they plan to ride, and be responsible for any overnight lodging and for return transportation arrangements. To ride with the tour, a separate registration form and donation will be required for each day. Riders may join the tour at any departure point and leave when they choose. Signatures of parents or guardians are required for participants under 16.
Riders who register or individuals who make a donation by June 9 will receive a free event T-shirt. Donations are fully tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to "The Rotary Foundation" with PolioPlus on the memo line. Any gift of $1,000 or more will receive a special recognition from the Foundation.
To register or for information on how to make a donation to help eradicate polio, call Rotary Past District Governor Kelly Wike at 814-684-0502.
For information about ride details including planned stops and route maps, call Past District Governor Joe White at 814-360-1544 or 814-765-1611, Ext. 5516.
To download route and ride information and registration and donation forms, visit www.district7350.org. Riders also can register on site an hour prior to scheduled departure times.
What is Polio?
- Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus.
- Children under 5 are most susceptible.
- The polio virus spreads through contaminated food and water.
- It can cause paralysis within hours.
- There is no known cure.
- Polio can be prevented only with vaccine.
- Polio has been the world's major cause of disability.
In the United States and most developed countries, children are now routinely immunized with vaccine to prevent polio. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, 10 percent of American children under the age of 3, about 1 million toddlers, have not been vaccinated against polio and are at risk of being infected by this paralyzing disease.
The polio virus can be carried silently by individuals who show no symptoms. If a polio-infected child or adult flies into a densely populated area like New York City where an estimated 25,000 children are unvaccinated, America could again have an epidemic outbreak of polio as it did during the 1950s. As long as polio exists in other parts of the world, it is only a plane ride away.
Rotary and its partners are making great inroads toward ending the polio threat once and for all.