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Rotarians around the world celebrated World Polio Day, 24 October, with events to raise both awareness and funds for polio eradication.  The tremendous amount of activity included the illumination of high profile landmarks with the “End Polio Now” message in India, Brazil and Mexico; a bike-a-thon involving local celebrity ambassadors in Nigeria, and the launch of a “speaking book” project promoting immunizations in Pakistan.  In India alone, more than 30 landmarks across the country were illuminated with the End Polio Now message, receiving strong media coverage.
RI also convened a special program, World Polio Day: Make History Today.   The event, co-hosted by the Northwestern University Center for Global Health, was held in downtown Chicago and broadcast live online to a global audience.

Speakers included President Ron Burton; Dr. Robert Murphy, director of Northwestern’s Center for Global Health; Dr. Bruce Aylward, the top polio eradication official at the World Health Organization; Dennis Ogbe, a polio survivor, Paralympian, and ambassador for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign; and Emmy award-winning actress Archie Panjabi, a Rotary polio celebrity ambassador.

The Livestream event, in English only, helped carry our polio eradication message to a new audience and is now archived for continued viewing.  Several of the speakers’ remarks, in English only, also are available for download individually, so that Rotarians can use them for club meetings and other events.
  • Viewers in 15 countries (including Ukraine, Brazil and South Africa) tuned in for the live broadcast
  • The live and archived video of the event had more than 11,000 views in just five days.
  • More than 1,000+ people tweeted about World Polio Day: Make History Today
  • More than 31,000 people liked, commented or shared Facebook posts about the event
A significant  amount of media coverage was generated on World Polio Day 2013, including articles focusing on Archie Panjabi and her work with Rotary on Windy City Live and Huffington Post Live, an interview with Dr. Aylward in the Journal of the American Medical Association, as well as coverage in the Voice of America, Radio France International, Pakistan Today, Die Welt, Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time, among others.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to watch World Polio Day: Making History and share it, along with the World Polio Day infographic, with others. And please start thinking about creative ways Rotary clubs can build off of our success this year and make World Polio Day 2014 an even more effective platform to carry the End Polio Now message.