LIVINGSTON, NJ — In order to help raise awareness and the necessary funds to help eradicate polio, the Livingston Sunrise Rotary Club is joining Rotary Clubs around the world in celebrating World Polio Day on Oct. 24. Members of the local chapter attended Monday’s township council meeting to spread the word about the disease and to promote their upcoming World Polio Day event.

Past president Monte Ehrenkranz, along with current president Jay Freireich, past presidents Jack Ackerman and Robert Emert, and members Jodi Solotoff and Carole Gottlieb, explained that the goal of their event is to make the Livingston community aware of this international effort and to also raise $1,000 to help Rotary International immunize children all over the world.

“Our $1,000 will become $3,000, as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to donate $2 for every $1 donated for the fight against polio,” said Ehrenkranz. “Polio is a disease that most of us in the United States have never observed or had to worry about. But there are areas in the world that still have cases of polio, and if there’s a case in the world, then there’s a chance that it could spread.”

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He explained that polio is a highly infectious disease that most commonly affects children under the age of five. The virus is spread person-to-person, he said, typically through contaminated water. It can attack the nervous system, and in some cases lead to paralysis.

“Although there is no cure, there’s a safe and effective vaccine—one which Rotary and its partners have used to immunize 2.5 billion children worldwide,” said Ehrenkranz. “Since 1985, Rotary and its partners have helped reduce the number of cases from 350,000 annually to fewer than 22 in 2017; and they remain committed until the disease is eradicated.”

Today, the only active cases of polio that have been reported are in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he added.

Rotary has contributed more than $1.3 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than two billion children worldwide, according to Ehrenkranz. Additionally, he said that Rotary’s advocacy efforts have “played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute over $10 billion to the effort.”

“Please join us in the fight to end polio and help us save lives and give a child a chance at a prosperous future,” said Ehrenkranz. “For a $1 donation, we will color your pinky purple as a sign that you are with us in this fight and hope that on Oct. 24, we all can gather at the Oval to celebrate reaching our goal and take a photo of hundreds of purple pinkies in Livingston, NJ.”

Mayor Ed Meinhardt and the members of the township council presented the Livingston Sunrise Rotary Club with an official proclamation declaring Oct. 24 as Polio Day in Livingston.

Meinhardt also acknowledged the fact that the Livingston Sunrise Rotary Club is made up of all local business leaders who are looking to better their community and the world, and thanked the members of the club for continuing to give back to the township.

“Although Rotary has been around for 130 years, our club has been in existence for only 15 years,” said Ehrenkranz. “From the beginning, the object of Rotary has been to encourage and foster the idea of service as a basis aboard the enterprise. Based on that, our small club that has averaged 24 members has done some great things in our past 15 years.”

Some of these endeavors have included raising and donating thousands of dollars to local, national and international charities; collecting and sending clothes, food, medical supplies and funds to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy and other disasters; donating to the local food bank; providing Target and ShopRite gift cards to Livingston residents in need over the holidays; and donating more than $300,000 to the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to date through the organization’s annual food tasting event.

Additionally, the Livingston Sunrise Rotary is currently planning to participate in the Rotary’s national “Dictionary Project,” in which Rotary Clubs all over the country are providing dictionaries toe every third grader in their individual communities.

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