Early morning swim to aid polio eradication
Matamata Rotarians are encouraging locals to help eradicate polio in the world by swimming 100m for charity on February 26.
The catch is that the event, to be held at the Matamata Sports Centre, is part of a world record bid and as such the local event will be held between 1am and 2am on Sunday.
Rotary Club of Matamata vice- president Graeme Guilford said the concept of the event began in England where participants would swim between noon and 1pm so in order to coincide timings Matamata’s swim was timed for early in the morning.
‘‘We feel this is a fabulous cause for people to get in and support,’’ Mr Guilford said.
‘‘Imagine being able to say you helped in a small way to ridding the world of polio.’’
Just last week Rotary International announced that a major milestone was being ‘‘cautiously celebrated’’ in the global effort to eradicate polio in the world.
Rotary New Zealand’s regional publicity co-ordinator Howard Tong said India, until recently an epicentre of the wild poliovirus, had gone more than one year without recording a new case of polio.
‘‘Kiwis have been front and centre of the efforts to eliminate this terrible disease,’’ Mr Tong said. ‘‘Although we have not had any new cases of polio in New Zealand for many years, thanks to mass immunisation campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s, there are still polio survivors groups active in New Zealand.’’
The last reported case of polio in India occurred on January 13, 2011. The previous year 42 cases were recorded and in 2009 India had 741 new polio cases.
Since 1979, Rotary has been at the forefront in the fight to eradicate polio and more than US$1.2 billion has been raised by the 1985.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and world governments have also given billions of dollars in the fight to end polio. Three years ago, the Gates Foundation granted Rotary US$355 million and challenged Rotarians to find US$200 million – a figure that has been almost met.
Mr Guilford said the Matamata club wanted to be seen to be assisting this worldwide fundraising effort.
Entry into the event is $20 and participants were also encouraged to get sponsorship to complete the swim from friends and families.
Entry forms are available from the Matamata Chronicle office and Matamata Paper Plus.