Local Rotarians honored for part in worldwide polio eradication

Local Rotarians honored for part in worldwide polio eradication
Past District Governors Marshall Butler and Shawn Asmuth, Juliet and Ian Riseley, President-elect Jimmy Kelly and President Ed Lombard from the West Jacksonville Rotary Club (Photo by Dan Bagan)

Rotary International President Ian Riseley, from Victoria, Australia, recently visited Rotarians in District 6970 to thank them for their generosity and commitment to eradicating polio. District 6970 led the world in District Designated Funds for PolioPlus and had total contributions of $416,359 in 2016-17.

Riseley spoke at a brunch May 6 at River City Brewing Company to about 130 Rotarians from 15 to 20 clubs from across the district.

Rotarians in District 6970 have contributed more than $4 million in this effort to date, and have led multiple teams to as far away as India to immunized children against polio. “From 385,000 cases a year in 1985 to only 8 so far this year, we are on the verge of making history and eradicating only the second disease in history of the world,” Riseley said.

“The Rotarians of District 6970 are committed to a polio-free world,” said Marshall  Butler, past district governor and member of the West Jacksonville Rotary Club. “Since Rotary began this campaign in 1985, our district has contributed $5,254,221 to the End Polio Now campaign. There has been a 99.9 percent reduction in cases and we won’t stop until we drop to zero.”

In addition to cash contributions from members, Rotary 6970 committed an additional $150,000 to the program in 2016-17, which will be matched 2-for-1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to Butler.

Riseley is a chartered accountant and principal of Ian Riseley and Co., a firm he established in 1976. His honors include the AusAID Peacebuilder Award from the Australian government in recognition of his work in East Timor; the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Australian community; and the Distinguished Service Award and the Regional Service Award for a Polio-Free World from The Rotary Foundation.

A Rotarian since 1978, Riseley has served as treasurer, director, Foundation trustee, and member and chair of numerous RI and Foundation committees. He was selected to head the entire Rotary organization as International President in July of 2017.

Rotary 6970 has over 3,300 members, 63 clubs and covers 12 counties (Duval, Nassau, Baker, Clay, Bradford, Alachua, St. Johns, Volusia, Flagler, Marion, Putnam, and Union).

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