Celebrities and Notables Join Rotary Campaign to End Polio
After more than 25 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are now “This Close” to eradicating polio, and a wide array of public figures and celebrities from Bill Gates to Ziggy Marley have signed on to help Rotary spread the word. Now, the general public is invited to join them in an online campaign at www.thisclose.net.At the online application, visitors can upload their image into an online version of the existing public service announcement, wearing an “End Polio Now” t-shirt, with fingers held up in a simple hand gesture to show that Rotary is “this close” to wiping out polio worldwide.They can share their virtual pledge through facebook and twitter, and browse an interactive map and gallery of participants from across the globe. The final ads are entered into a gallery that includes Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and a diverse lineup of influential leaders and personalities.The “This Close” public service campaign includes action movie star Jackie Chan, conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, premier violinist Itzhak Perlman, Grammy Award winners A.R. Rahman, Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, golfing great Jack Nicklaus, and peace advocate Queen Noor of Jordan. Nicklaus, Perlman and Tutu are themselves survivors of this crippling disease.
Developed and produced by Evanston-based I-Imagine, the thisclose.net application follows the success of a previous virtual campaign, www.kickpoliooutofafrica.org, which gathered more than 11,000 online signatures in support of polio eradication in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup.Polio eradication has been Rotary’s top priority for more than two decades. The international humanitarian service organization is a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, along with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.Rotary club members worldwide have contributed more than $1 billion and countless volunteer hours to the polio eradication effort, and have recently pledged to raise an additional US$200 million to match $355 million in challenge grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. All of the resulting $555 million will be spent in support of eradication activities.Great progress has been made, and the incidence of polio infection has plunged from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 1,300 reported cases in 2010. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 pediatric deaths.To visit the online application, visit www.thisclose.net.To learn more about polio eradication, including how to participate in this historic effort, visit www.rotary.org/endpolio.