In communities like Thomson and McDuffie County and indeed in communities all across the world, there is no organization that takes the motto of Service above Self seriously and passionately than Rotary International. Nowhere is this more evident than in Rotary's commitment to a polio-free world.
For nearly 100 years, members of Rotary have been working in communities like Thomson and McDuffie County to support projects addressing many of the world's most pressing issues. Rotary's contribution to a cause has always meant more than money. Rotary members bring passion, creativity, and genuine hard work on the ground.
In 1985, Rotary International took a stand against polio, a disease that crippled 350,000 children annually. Eighteen years later, Rotary has become the heart and soul of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), dedicated to realizing Rotary's dream: a polio-free world for children everywhere.
This year, confronted with the funding shortfall that threatens the eradication initiative, Rotary members again responded with thousands of fundraising events and millions in personal donations. Across the world, 1.2 million Rotary volunteers dedicated countless hours of their time to bring in vital resources and keep polio eradication in the spotlight. The results -- $111.5 million for a polio-free world. Rotary International's total contribution to polio eradication currently stands at over a half billion dollars.
For millions of children and their families in some of the world's poorest countries, the results are plain to see. Today, 209 countries are polio-free (with only seven more to go) and more than two billion children have been immunized. Because of the dedication of Rotary members everywhere, and the support of communities like Thomson and McDuffie County, we are one step away from a polio- free world.
On behalf of the Global Polio Eradication partnership, we commend the Rotary Club of Thomson and the people of Thomson Georgia for your latest and much needed contribution of ensure every child is immunized against polio. We challenge others-individuals, communities, and governments to follow your vision and provide the funding still very much needed to ensure that all children can enjoy a world without polio.
Thank you for your leadership for children.
Dr. LEE Jong-wook
World Health Organization
Secretary Tommy Thomson
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention