On October 31 we had an appearance by Robbie Donno, a Rotarian from the Manhasset Club and Past Governor of District 7255. It was 1975 when Robbie read an article in the Rotarian magazine about a nurse in Uganda who needed facial surgery after being mauled by a hyena. Communications technology being what it was at that time, the nurse received treatment in Australia before Robbie could respond BUT, along the way, he met a 5 year-old girl who needed heart surgery. He arranged to have her transported to New York for the life-saving operation. That was the first of what has become over 35,000 heart surgeries provided by the Gift Of Life International organization founded by Robbie. Their unique stories revolve around the single idea that somewhere in this world, there were people who extended help, hope and love when there was no other relief in sight and those people were Rotarians! GOL is stronger than ever and hopes to provide over 3,500 operations this year. 93+% of children born with a congenital heart defect are born in a country where there is no hope for treatment. GOL now operates in 80 countries across five continents. Their initiatives are supported by 286 Rotary Clubs and 63 Rotary Districts.
Robbie with nephew, MSR's Jeff Kicska. Jeff credits his uncle as his inspiration to do good things!
In background are the latest recipient and on the right the first recipient of the GOL!
One person can really make a difference. Given his vocational background, Robbie refers to himself as "a garbageman who does heart surgery on the side."