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Rotary Club thankful for community support of Pumpkins for Polio

$11,000 raised which will b ematched 2:1 by Gates Foundation
Rotarians Tony Fantillo (on accordion) and Pieter Koeleman (singing) do the Pumpkins for Polio Song. Photo contributed

By Gary McLelan

Rotary Club of Campbell River

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 percent. 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.

The Rotary Club of Campbell River held its public Pumpkins for Polio auction at the Riptide Pub on Oct. 25. This is the fourth year that the Riptide Pub has graciously hosted the event – an enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a beer and burger dinner followed by the pumpkin auction. The homegrown pumpkins were kindly donated by Coastal Black Farms and skillfully carved or painted by members of the Campbell River Arts Council, Crow’s Nest Artists Consortium, City Councillor Ron Kerr and First Nations carver, Greg Henderson.

Before the auction started, the audience was treated to the now famous “Pumpkins for Polio” song which was performed by Rotarian Pieter Koeleman. Rotarian Todd Peachey provided auctioneering skills and humour which were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience as he auctioned more than 30 pumpkin-themed items. At the end of the evening, Rotary members were very pleased to learn that the event brought in approximately $5,600!

On Oct. 26, the Rotary Club of Campbell River’s Pumpkins for Polio auction was held at the regular noon meeting of the Club. Rotary Club members provided carved and painted pumpkins, also donated by Coastal Black Farms, which were sold to the highest bidder. Pieter Koeleman, accompanied by Rotarian Tony Fantillo on accordion, performed the Pumpkins for Polio song. Rotarian Todd Peachey again displayed his auctioneering skills. The Club’s Pumpkins for Polio event raised over $4,000!

In addition to the auctions, Berwick by the Sea conducted its own fundraising activities for the polio cause which included candy apple sales, raffles, and other promotions. This group raised approximately $1,500 which was delivered to the Rotary Club. There were also numerous donations made by Campbell River residents who wish to see an end to polio. In total, the Rotary Club of Campbell River’s 2022 fundraising activities raised approximately $11,000! This amount will be matched 2:1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation resulting in approximately $33,000 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! The Rotary Club of Campbell River thanks the Campbell River community for its support.

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These 30+ auction items were auctioned at the Riptide Pub. Photo contributed

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