Headlines from 05/18/05

Polio  victim “Motorcycle Bob” tells how Rotary fights disease"
Stopping in Delaware on his 18,000 mile trip covering the 48 lower states and 10 Canadian provincial capitals, “Motorcycle Bob” told fellow Rotarians in Dover last week that polio is on the verge of being wiped out in the world. He gave 2008 as the target year.

Bob Mutchler, a polio survivor from Sacramento who as a young boy in the early 1950s spent three years in an “iron lung,” is making the tour to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine. He will also be in Chicago later to help celebrate Rotary’s 100th birthday.

Mutchler was joined in his Dover appearance by Tony Hennessy, a fellow biker from Australia who is the past Rotary district governor in Tasmania. On the spur of the moment last year in Australia, Hennessy agreed to Mutchler’s invitation to make the long North American tour. Mutchler has already done it seven times.

Sam Tuttle of Middletown, assistant governor in Rotary District 7630, which has 40 clubs in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, led in making arrangements for the Delaware visit, Members from 11 other clubs  joined the Dover Rotary Club last Tuesday night.

Jim “Magic” Jackson, also a biker, coordinated getting other members to meet at Mike’s Famous Harley Davidson dealership in New Castle to escort Mutchler and his fellow biker to Dover.

Twenty years ago Rotary launched its polio eradication program aimed at ridding the world of the disease by 2005. At that time there were an estimated 350,000 new cases of polio in 125 countries. Last year, only 1,263 cases were reported. A critical key to the successful effort was the discovery in 1961 by Dr. Albert Sabin of an oral polio vaccine. .

Mutchler, a barrel-chested man who walks with the aid of crutches, praised the local district as being one of less than ten of the 539 Rotary districts worldwide to donate more than $1 million to the Polio Plus program.

Overall, the 1.2 million Rotarians in 166 countries have contributed $600,000,000 to the eradication effort. In 1988, Rotary was joined by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in the polio program. Since 1988, a 99% reduction in new polio cases has been achieved.

Mutchler told Rotarians at the dinner at Maple Dale Country Club of a Wall Street Journal editorial last month which praised Rotary’s work and mentioned that “an economist of our acquaintance calls Rotary’s effort the most successful private health care initiative ever.”

In the 1950’s polio was a feared disease which usually struck children under the age of three. By 1994 the Americas were certified polio-free and by 2000 the same could be said about the Western Pacific.





DONATIONS to either PolioPlus or to support Motorcycle Bob's rides can be made through Motorcyclists for Awareness of Children's HealthClick here for a donation form.  If you would like to be a sponsor or join Motorcycle Bob on a ride, contact Bob at bob@polioplusride.org

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