GRAVENHURST — Polio survivors Cliff Flavell and Ruth Bradley were among more than two dozen Rotarians and supporters who marked World Polio Day here yesterday.
The Gravenhurst Rotary Club event, which in addition raised a few hundred dollars to be matched by Rotary International, brought more awareness to the NGO’s global vaccine program.
And the fact that its decades old quest is proof that ‘Vaccines work…’ read their signs.
Rotary’s goal of riding the world of polio was one more step forward as Muskoka Rotarians from Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville trekked through the downtown with walkers also carrying bright red ‘End Polio NOW!’ signs.
Another walker was retired Dr. Jim Goodwin, 91, who with his wife, Marlyn, pushed his walker halfway down to the Opera House and back to the starting point at the United Church.
As the group walked down Muskoka Road past Hotchkiss Street the bells at the Anglican Church rang out in support and on their return journey, a tribute arranged by Flavell’s sister Mary and Rev. Heather Manuel who brought marched with her sons as their dad rang the big church bell.
Flavell, who was 14, when he contracted the life-long disease said in addressing the group that “the fight is not over,” as long as his 84-year-old body can continue.
For years before the pandemic, he led a public awareness group that included members from Barrie to Huntsville.
He said there are quite a few older people in Muskoka still living with post-polio symptoms.
Rotary’s 1.2 million worldwide members in 35,000 clubs have made polio eradication its signature fundraising event.
Its efforts have been so successful that less than 100 cases exist today — notably in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But, said organizer Mark Clairmont, “It’s not just the 1 per cent or less victims that walkers were out to continue to help — but it’s the other 99 per cent success stories that happen each year with each dose of the vaccine.”
They are the ones in Third World Countries who benefit from days like the annual Oct. 24 walks and other fundraising events.