In this file photo, rotarian Todd Peachey auctions off artistically-carved pumpkins at Rotary’s Pumpkins for Polio. This year’s pumpkin auction will take place Oct. 29 at the Riptide Pub. File photo

Rotary adds purple window displays to annual polio awareness campaign

Pumpkin auction still a go for Oct. 29

The colour purple will be featured in many business window displays this week. The new awareness campaign, which is expected to hit more than 60 local businesses, is to promote awareness of World Polio Day on Oct. 24.

“We like to use World Polio Day to create more awareness in the public here in Campbell River about polio and polio eradication,” said Pieter Koeleman, co-chair of Rotary Campbell River’s End Polio Now Committee.

The Campbell River Rotary Club will be providing businesses with the materials they need to set up the displays, including eco-friendly purple balloons with the words “Thankful, I Don’t Have Polio,” a donation box and purple felt pens.

When children are immunized, they receive a purple mark on their pinky finger, said Koeleman, so the felt pens in businesses will provide an interactive element to the display.

RELATED: Local Rotarian returns with a life lesson after immunizing children in Africa

“So when people like, they can colour a pinky nail purple,” he said.

In addition to the window display awareness campaign, Rotary will once again be doing its popular Pumpkins for Polio event. Twenty-five pumpkins decorated and carved by local artists will be up for grabs at the Riptide Pub on Oct. 29. Tickets are $25 and get you a burger, a side, and a drink. All the proceeds raised will go to the End Polio Now campaign. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will “double-match” funds raised. So if they raise, $7,000, the foundation will contribute $14,000.

“It’s a fun evening and it’s good fellowship and we raise good money,” he said.

The eradication of polio has come a long way. In 1988, when Rotary International began its campaign to end polio, there were 350,000 cases of the disease in 125 countries. Since then, the occurance of cases has dropped 99.9 per cent.

RELATED: Pumpkins to fight polio

Today, there are just three countries that have reports of polio and that could drop to two shortly. Koeleman expects that Nigeria will soon be cleared from the list since it’s been polio-free for the last three years.

Pakistan and Afghanistan remain affected by the disease. Koeleman said that conflict in both countries is hampering immunization efforts.

Koeleman has been involved with the campaign since 1988. As a physiotherapist, he’s seen a number of polio cases, affecting both young and old.

“So I know what it is,” he said. “I have to do this.”

Businesses interested in creating a window display can contact Koeleman at pkphysio@shaw.ca. Tickets for the pumpkin auction can be purchased at Preston Jewellers on Shoppers Row, or at the door.

RELATED: Noon Rotary Club fights to end polio


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