Rotary's parade against polio passes through Young

Rotary club members stop in Young for their annual polio awareness and charity parade. The team raises funds for polio vaccinations which will continue to further banish the last of the virus.
Rotary club members stop in Young for their annual polio awareness and charity parade. The team raises funds for polio vaccinations which will continue to further banish the last of the virus.

District Rotarians alongside the Rotary District governor John Glassford, paraded through Young en route from Griffith as part of their annual polio charity and awareness campaign. 

The drive provides the funds for polio vaccinations which will continue to further banish the last of the virus remaining among us world wide, and according to Mr Glassford only another $1.5 billion is required in order to rid the entire world of the virus.

"To date it has cost us $15 billion to decrease the number of polio cases from 1000 a week to only 31 a year.

"That money has come from Rotary, we have raised $1.8 billion of that, Bill Gates has matched us dollar for dollar, $1.8 billion, and the United States government have been the biggest contributors, as well as the Indian government and the United Kingdom," he said.

"When we are successful, we got to cut it back to three years in a row without any new cases and once we do that, then it becomes eliminated," Mr Glassford said.

"This would be the second time in human history that we've gotten rid of a disease. The first one was small pox."

Poliovirus is water born, spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person's brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis or infernal paralysis. According to Mr Glassford, who himself is a victim of the virus, polio weakens nerves and muscles.

"My Mother was a nurse and when I was eight she knew straight away that I had polio, so she pulled me out of school. She knew what to do and no matter how much it hurt, she would massage my legs and force me to move. She saved my life. 

"The first device created to have saved a polio sufferer was the Iron Lung, which is essentially a mechanical lung. As the virus progresses some lose function of their lungs, back in the day that was a respirator."

Iron Lung Maggie visits all 48 club locations in the district as part of the parade. The Rotarians were also met with two cyclists partaking in the We Ride So They Can Walk charity ride. They rode from Cootamundra to Young. Australia was declared Polio free in 2003.

Vaccinations are still required to continue, and as of today polio is only prominent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mr Glassford said.