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.
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
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
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