The Daily Item
MILTON — The Milton Rotary Club and the Milton Area School District have teamed to run a Purple and Pennies “End Polio Now” educational and fundraising project. The effort celebrates World Polio Day slated for Oct. 24, the birth date of Jonas Salk. Salk developed the first successful polio vaccine in 1955.
The local campaign began Oct. 9 and runs through Oct. 18, which has been dubbed “Wear Purple Clothes Day” in the district. Purple has become the symbol of “End Polio Now,” because, in many parts of the world, children’s fingers are stained purple when they are vaccinated. Penny collection containers are available at all schools.
In addition, daily announcements provide background information on the disease, which now exists in only three countries in the world, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Health and classroom teachers are also sharing information with their students. The effort also has the support of students who have been involved in the Milton High School Interact Club, a group for teens sponsored by Rotary.
Many US students are not familiar with polio because it was successfully eliminated in our country in 1979. There is concern, however, that it could reoccur here and in other countries because of the extent and ease of international travel. There is no cure for polio, so Rotary wants it to be completely destroyed, as smallpox was.
Milton Rotary and its parent organization, Rotary International, have raised over $1 billion since 1985 for public health education and vaccination efforts aimed at eliminating polio from the globe. They have partnered with the World Health Organization, the United Nations, the Center for Disease Control, and many international governments and charitable organizations.
In recent years Rotary has received considerable support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For every $1 raised in the Milton Purple and Pennies drive, the Gates Foundation will contribute $2. Rotary and its partners believe the end of polio is closer than ever before.