Four Rotary Clubs in Berks County—Conrad Weiser, Mount Penn, Spring Township, and West Reading/Wyomissing—will be sponsoring the 7th Annual Casino Night at the Crowne Plaza on February 27th from 6-10 pm. Local businesses will be sponsoring the gaming tables, along with donations of gift baskets, gift certificates and larger items for the silent auction. All of these help the fundraising efforts, which, in previous years, has yielded thousands of dollars toward the goal of ending polio.

Polio is a cruel disease that was once prevalent throughout the world. The virus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. It can strike at any age but mainly affects children under five. Polio is incurable, but completely vaccine-preventable.

With the help of over $1.5 billion contributed by Rotary and the countless volunteer hours to assist immunization efforts, fewer than 370 polio cases were reported in all of 2014. Compare that to the 1980’s, when 1000 cases per day were not uncommon, and it becomes evident that the efforts have been successful. Today, there are only two countries that have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yet, despite the undeniable success of the Rotary program, the goal remains to eradicate this paralyzing and potentially fatal disease. Toward that goal, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was formed in 1988. It is a public-private partnership that includes Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched two-to-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation up to $35 million a year through 2018. These funds help to provide much-needed operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents.

Until polio is eradicated, all countries remain at risk of outbreaks. So, the work continues to reach that goal through large foundations and many smaller, local events like Casino Night. This is the only opportunity to “gamble” where everybody wins…most importantly, all those children worldwide who will not suffer from polio.

Contact Keegan Worley at 610-413-1188 for more information!

(Credit to John Levan for the Merchandiser article)