Early morn­ing swim to aid po­lio erad­i­ca­tion

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By DAVID HULME

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.

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