Rogue Gateway marks World Polio Day with giant message

Rogue Gateway Rotary will light up the night this Friday and Saturday, beaming a giant version of the “End Polio Now” logo onto the Asante Three Rivers Medical Center outpatient building.

The giant red and gold logo will be visible from Highway 199 from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 23 and 24, projected onto the west side of the multi-story building — one of the newest and tallest in Grants Pass.

“Beaming the ‘End Polio Now’ logo is our way of celebrating World Polio Day, which is officially Oct. 24,” said Greg Fishwick, president of the Rogue Gateway Rotary club. “We’re hoping to raise awareness of this worldwide effort to stamp out a deadly disease.”

Four local Rotarians are the impetus behind the project. Gina Marie Agosta, assistant district governor, conceived the idea after learning about the “End Polio Now” message being beamed onto many of the world’s most famous landmarks including the New York Stock Exchange and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Rogue Gateway Rotary President Greg Fishwick picked up the ball and ran with it this year, eliciting the technical help of Jes Webb, owner of Applebox Marketing & Media. Win Howard, CEO of Asante, offered the Three Rivers Medical Center building as a backdrop.

Eradicating polio has been Rotary’s most important mission since 1988. Rotarians have helped immunize more than 2 billion children against polio in 122 countries since then, and World Polio Day was designed to reflect on their achievements and those accomplished through the Global Polio Eradication initiative, such as Nigeria’s recent removal from the list of polio-endemic countries.

The Global Polio Eradication initiative is a partnership of Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their combined efforts have reduced polio cases by 99 percent worldwide. Where once 350,000 children were paralyzed annually in 125 countries, just 57 cases have been reported this year. But the fight isn’t over yet.

“Although the Americas saw their last case of wild poliovirus in 1991, this disease is still just an airplane ride away,” Fishwick said. “Until polio is eliminated everywhere, all children are susceptible to outbreaks from imported cases.”

Polio is now endemic in only two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan; however, sporadic imported cases continue to occur, such as recent infections in Ukraine, Syria and Israel.

To learn more about the End Polio Now campaign and to donate, visit www.endpolio.org. Every donation will be tripled by the Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation.

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