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Rotary Marks Progress in Drive to Eradicate Polio
Date:6/23/2009

Despite economic challenges, donations exceed expectations

BIRMINGHAM, England, June 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the final push to rid the world of a crippling and potentially fatal disease, Rotary International today announced that it has raised US$90.7 million toward its US$200 Million Challenge, a fundraising effort to end polio worldwide.

Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Jonathan Majiyagbe announced the new figure to an international audience of 18,000 Rotary members at the organization's annual convention in Birmingham. Also present was actress Mia Farrow, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and polio survivor.

"I am extremely grateful and proud to be a part of such an impressive alliance," said Farrow. "I perhaps am more motivated than most people because I had polio myself when I was nine, and it was a real struggle to come through it. And what I saw around me will never leave me, in the hospitals and public wards for contagious diseases. I also have a son who's paralyzed from the waist down because of polio. This is a terrible disease and I would love to see the day when no more children have it."

The convention began on 21 June, when United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Rotary for its leadership role in the fight against polio and received the Polio Eradication Champion award, the highest recognition Rotary bestows to heads of state, health agency ministers and directors, and other leaders for their significant contributions to the eradication effort.

The funds announced today will be used to match a US$350 million challenge grant recently awarded to Rotary by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - a funding agreement that will provide US$555 million to the global health initiative within the next three years.

In late 2007, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation originally challenged Rotary members to match a US$100 million grant, do
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SOURCE Rotary International
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