Local Rotarian, Pieter Koeleman, is once again spearheading this years Pumpkins for Polio event. On Oct. 28 pumpkins decorated by Rotarians and local artists will be auctioned off at the Campbell River Mens club. All of the funds raised will go towards the PolioPlus program.
In 1985 Rotary International started the PolioPlus program to end polio worldwide. At the time, the virus crippled for than 350,000 children per year in 125 countries. Today, because of vaccination, the only remaining cases are in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Oct. 23 is polio awareness day all around the world.
All donations to the cause are doubled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for every dollar donated the foundation donates $2.
Koeleman himself has seen how polio affects children. As a physiotherapy student in the Netherlands in the late 50s he worked at a rehabilitation centre.
“For the first time I saw kids there that were affected by polio,” he said.
There were kids who needed help eating because their arms were in slings or who needed braces to walk.
Koeleman said the suffering is needless because all it takes is two drops of an oral vaccine.
“Any case that is there is still one too much.”
Polio is a highly infectious virus that mainly affects young children. It multiplies in the intestine, where it can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis.