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Rotary Clubs Light Up the World to End Polio

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 General News J E 4
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World landmarks will carry Rotary's End Polio Now pledge during the week of Feb. 23

EVANSTON, Ill., Feb. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- What do the Egyptian Pyramid of Khafre, Buenos Aires' Obelisk, and Chicago's Wrigley Building have in common?

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 Feb. 23, the humanitarian service organization's 105th anniversary.

"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.

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, Egypt was declared polio-free, leaving only four polio-endemic countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Other sites scheduled for illumination include Taipei Arena, Taiwan; Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain; Old Port Captain's Office on the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, with Table Mountain as the backdrop; Obelisk of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lake Marathon Dam overlooking the Marathon Memorial Battlefield in Greece; Royal Palace of Caserta in Italy; and in the city of Rotary's founding 105 years ago, Chicago's famous Wrigley Building.

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.

Rotary members worldwide have contributed more than $900 million and countless volunteer hours and are now working aggressively to raise another $200 million to match a $355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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.

To learn more, visit www.rotary.org/endpolio.

For video and still photos go to: www.thenewsmarket.com/rotaryinternational

SOURCE Rotary International
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