HARLINGEN — The Harlingen Rotary Club has long been a part of the fight against polio.
But now they are taking their message and efforts to the streets.
This coming Saturday, the group will be jumping on their hogs and riding for a cause.
In an effort to raise money and awareness about polio, the local Rotarians will join other clubs within District 5930.
One of Rotary International’s main causes is the fight against polio, with the goal to permanently end the disease. Rotary members have spent more than 30 years fighting polio, which is almost eradicated.
There still is a little more work to do.
The plan is to pass by and stop at many Rotary cities within the district. Members and non-members are encouraged to join the event starting at 2 p.m. at the Harlingen Information Center on Tyler Street.
Eventually, the participating riders will make their way through the Rio Grande Valley and end in Laredo on Sunday, making a full triangle through South Texas, said J. Michael Dickerson, lieutenant-governor of Youth Services District 5930.
The riders will stop at several locations collecting donations and meeting with fellow Rotarians and the community.
“We don’t discriminate on the number of wheels you use. Classic cars and trikes are perfectly fine,” Dickerson said. “We want to draw attention to our cause, so the more impressions we can make for End Polio Now and Rotary, the better.”
All donations will go to Rotary International Polio Plus for polio eradication and will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, turning every $100 donation into $300.
So far, the district has raised $2,665 of its $5,000 goal.
“We are this close,” Dickerson said. “I know those who receive the life-changing polio vaccine all around the world can count on my fellow Rotarians of District 5930 to come together and make a real change in the spirit of fellowship and fun.”
Officials say the eradication of polio will mean no child will ever be paralyzed by this debilitating disease again.
“We can make a lasting difference to global health overall and significantly reduce the gap in the impact of infectious diseases between middle income and poorer countries,” officials said.
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. It is caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis. There are three different strains of the poliovirus. Type 2 was officially eradicated in September 2015
Type 1 circulates in only three countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Because polio has no cure, vaccination is the best way to protect people and is the only way to stop the disease from spreading. Polio was declared eradicated from the United States in 1979.
• There are three countries where polio is still endemic, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
• Less than 40 children were paralyzed by polio in 2016, the lowest number in history.
• 155: the number of countries involved in largest coordinated vaccine switch in history.
• $60 billion: cost of disease epidemics per year.
• 20 million: the number of volunteers participating since the global polio eradication initiative was launched in 1988.
• $1.5 billion: the amount needed to eradicate polio.
• 4: the factor by which health savings exceed the cost of polio eradication. Every dollar spent on vaccinations in the U.S. saves $3 in direct health care costs and $10 societally. A polio free world will reap financial savings and reduce health care costs by up to $50 billion through 2035.
WHAT: Rotary Polio Moto
WHEN: Saturday, March 25. Riders will meet at 2 p.m.
WHERE: Harlingen Information Center on Tyler Street.