As part of Rotary International’s “End Polio Now” campaign, the Rotary Club of Youngstown kicked off a local campaign to raise awareness and critically-needed funds to fight this crippling disease. The local Rotary’s fundraising effort, The Crocus Campaign, is a partnership with Chick-Fil-A and Youngstown CityScape.
On the National Day of Caring this past fall, volunteers from CityScape and the United Way helped plant over 500 purple crocus bulbs in the downtown square. The crocus is the international symbol for the eradication of polio.
As the crocuses are in bloom, the Rotary Club of Youngstown is celebrating this reawakening by selling silk crocus lapel pins. The purple color symbolizes the dye that is applied to the little finger of each child immunized against polio. The Crocus Campaign is to help raise funds and awareness of the potential global economic and financial effects of Polio. Crocuses can be purchased at the Boardman Chick-Fil-A for a suggested donation of $3. Of course, if you’d like to donate more, it would be greatly appreciated!
Funds raised will be matched by Rotary International, the volunteer fundraising arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — a public-private partnership that also includes the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This fundraising effort comes at an important time in the fight to eradicate polio, which would be only the second human disease besides smallpox to be eradicated. Case numbers of the disease have never been lower, and only three countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) still continue the transmission of the wild poliovirus.
However, a funding gap means immunization campaigns are being cut in high-risk countries, leaving children more vulnerable to polio. If polio isn’t stopped now, the disease could stage a comeback, affecting an estimated 200,000 children every year.
Since 1988, the number of polio cases has been reduced from 350,000 a year to fewer than 700 cases in 2011. The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, the Western Pacific region in 2000, Europe in 2002, and India in 2011. A highly infectious disease, Polio still strikes children mainly under the age of five in parts of Africa and South Asia. Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death. There is no cure for polio, but for as little as 60 cents worth of oral vaccine, a child can be protected from the disease for life.