By Macon Dunnagan Jr., a member of the Rotary Club of Charlotte-South, North Carolina, USA

In September, I will be leading a party of Rotarians from District 7680 (North Carolina, USA) up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, to raise money and awareness for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign.

I am not a stranger to the top of the mountain. Since 1999, I have reached the summit 20 times, on my own and as an expedition director for Zara Tours, based in Moshi, Tanzania. Since my first wife, Michelle, died of ovarian cancer in 2007, I have been climbing Kilimanjaro every September in support of cancer awareness.

Last May, a friend of mine who is a Rotarian invited me to speak to the Charlotte-South Rotary Club about my climbing experience. They must have enjoyed the talk, for they invited me to join their club!

A few months later, before I had even had a chance to follow through on the invitation because of my climbing schedule, I was attending another meeting when the discussion turned to fundraising ideas for the 2012-13 Rotary year. I piped up that I would be more than happy to lead a fundraising climb up Kilimanjaro. Well, five months later, more than 30 Rotarians are signed up to take part in the district’s first climb to End Polio Now, where we hope to raise $100,000 or more in pledges.

The fundraiser is especially important to me. Moshi is a town at the base of the mountain where I live while in Tanzania. In November 2011, Tanzania held a nation-wide immunization campaign, vaccinating 220,000 children against polio and measles, and delivering Vitamin A drops. But a shortage of funds prevented many of the children in Moshi from being vaccinated.

I have seen how important it is to keep raising money to fund eradication efforts. I am looking forward to leading a team of Rotarians to the summit in support of finally ridding the world of this crippling disease once and for all. I am also hoping to share the story with other Rotarians I meet at the 2013 RI Convention in Lisbon, Portugal.

We are truly “This Close” to ending polio. Let’s do all we can to cross the finish line.