Rotarian Pieter Koeleman (left) sings The Polio Song with fellow Rotarian Tony Fantillo accompanies him on the accordian at the Rotary Club of Campbell River’s Pumpkins for Polio fundraiser. Photo by Jacob Koomens

In excess of $16,500 raised by Pumpkins for Polio

Annual artistically-carved pumpkins auction helps eradicate the disease

The Rotary Club of Campbell River reached out on World Polio Day (Oct.24) to raise awareness, funds and support to end polio – a vaccine preventable disease that still threatens children in parts of the world today.

Since Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 per cent, from about 350,000 cases a year to just 33 cases in 2018. To sustain this progress, and protect all children from polio, Rotary has committed to raising US$50 million per year for polio eradication. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match Rotary’s commitment on a 2:1 basis, for a total commitment of US$150 million per year.

The Rotary Club of Campbell River contributes to this funding commitment through the club’s annual Pumpkins for Polio auctions which it held this year at the Riptide Pub on Oct. 29. This is the third year that the Riptide Pub has hosted the event – an enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a beer and burger dinner followed by the pumpkin auction.

The homegrown pumpkins were donated by Coastal Black Farms and skillfully carved or painted by members of the Campbell River Arts Council. Before the auction started, the audience was treated to the now famous “Pumpkins for Polio” song which was performed by Pieter Koeleman (vocals) and Tony Fantillo (accordion).

Kevin Simonett of the Daybreak Rotary Club provided auctioneering skills and humour which were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience as he auctioned more than 20 pumpkins. At the end of the evening, Rotary members were very pleased to learn that the event brought in $2,500.

The following day, a second Pumpkins for Polio auction was held at the regular noon meeting of the Rotary Club of Campbell River where Rotarian Todd Peachey displayed his auctioneering skills. Rotary Club members provided carved and painted pumpkins, also donated by Coastal Black Farms, which were sold to the highest bidder. The club’s Pumpkins for Polio event raised over $3,000.

The $5,500-plus raised from the two Pumpkins for Polio events will be matched 2:1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation resulting in a total of more than $16,500 that will go towards global polio eradication efforts.

Rotary’s immediate goal is to eradicate the wild polio virus in the polio-active countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Eradicating the virus in these two countries will lead to the eventual elimination of polio throughout the world.

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These pumpkins were put up for auction in the Rotary Club of Campbell River’s Pumpkins for Polio event at the Riptide Pub on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Photo by Jacob Koomen

These pumpkins were put up for auction in the Rotary Club of Campbell River’s Pumpkins for Polio event at the Riptide Pub on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Photo by Jacob Koomen

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