By Karlene Skretting
Westwind Weekly News
Despite a strong wind, poor weather and a last minute route change, three members of the Raymond Rotary Club each pedaled their bikes for over nine hours across 169 kilometers (100 miles) on May 8 as part of their Pedal 4 Polio fundraiser.
“I would like to think that this is our first annual bike ride and that we will do this again next year for another cause,” said Val Boehme, Raymond Rotary Club, public relations and communications chair. “I look forward to more joining us next year on the ride.”
Boehme shared that the idea came from a Rotary magazine that recently featured an Arizona Club that had a successful bicycle ride fundraiser.
Though long distance cycling is not new to Bohme, in 2013 he decided to commemorate his 65th birthday with a successful 65-mile (104 kilometers) bike ride from Waterton to Raymond. Upon completion, fellow Rotary members, Steve and Pat Leavitt expressed interest in taking part in a long distance ride.
Such a ride had long been talked about. It was just a matter of where, when and why.
Together the three decided on a fundraiser for polio, as it is the Rotary’s international health focus, and collected pledges
“The local rotary club does not have charitable status so the fundraiser was organized through the Rotary Foundation which does, so that donors could be issued tax receipts.”
Pedal 4 Polio raised $4,200 in donations, which will be matched by the Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation, times two, for a total of $12,600.
“The cost of a polio vaccine is 60-cents per treatment so the ride generated enough money to cover 21,000 vaccinations,” shared Bohme about what was shared at the recent Rotary District 5360 Inc Convention in Medicine Hat.
Val, Pat and Steve were recognized at the convention for their ride from Medicine Hat to Lethbridge and their fundraising efforts.
The trio has since donated the money to the Rotary Foundation of Canada to put to use where vaccines are needed.
“Eradicating Polio has been an initiative of Rotary International since the club started,” stated Bohme who went on to add that Alberta was not Polio free until 1998. The last reported case was in 1996, he said.
“Rotary, along with our partners, has reduced polio cases by 99 percent worldwide since our first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979,” reads the Rotary website.
There are still three countries in the world that have outstanding Polio cases, noted Bohme, these include Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
“Last year India was declared Polio free after going two years without any cases.” For an area to officially be declared polio free they must go two years without a new cause of polio.
There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.