In September, 2012, 30 Rotarians from the Charlotte area (Rotary District 7680) climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. The Rotary climbers and friends raised over $100,000 to help end polio globally.
Their efforts were part of Rotary International’s End Polio Now initiative which protects children around the world with polio vaccines to eradicate this disease forever.
Rotarian Macon Dunnagan, 53, a veteran of 25 Kilimanjaro climbs, led the team. These valiant Rotarian and non-Rotarian climbers were awed by Tanzania’s great beauty, dismayed by the abject poverty and lack of modern conveniences, and touched by the warm, friendly and generous native peoples they met during their six-day trek.
Rotarian Scott Melius, 44, summed the Kilimanjaro climb best. “The climb was exceptional! The cause was admirable. The people were the very best part, the porters and the guides remarkable in spirit and strength,” he said.
According to Bob Wilson, 67, past district governor of Rotary District 7680, the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” was exemplified by those who climbed the 19,344 foot mountain, including non-Rotarian Hadley Trotter, 31. Trotter’s expertise in emergency medicine and incredible compassion were a classic example of the essence of a Rotarian, he added.
Another Rotarian, Rich Sampson, 65, recalled meeting a Swahili gentleman who explained he’d been crippled by polio as a child, able only to get around using his hands, which were covered by flip-flops. Thanks to the local Rotary Club in Tanzania he has been provided work and mobility through the use of a small three-wheeled vehicle.
Climber Allen Langley, 51, immediate past Rotary district governor, felt privileged to be a part of Rotary International’s National Immunization Day in India two years ago. “I cannot describe how that event impacted my life and my feeling of purpose as a Rotarian. When I held those small children and tiny babies to administer the drops that would prevent them from developing the crippling disease of polio, I knew that as an individual I was making a huge impact in the lives of not only them but their families as well,” said Langley.
The fight to end polio is led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which includes Rotary International, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and governments of the world, with the support of many others around the globe.
Rotary International is hopeful that the 27 years and over $1 billion dollars they have used to lead the private sector in this global pursuit will rid the world of this dread disease. Their PolioPlus program has been recognized as an excellent model of public-private cooperation in pursuit of a humanitarian goal.