Local jazz musician and vocalist Fred Fischer spoke on November 9 at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield.
An accomplished pianist and vocalist, Fred is a member of the Beacon Hill Jazz Band and the NFL Vocal Jazz Trio. He also accompanies many other jazz performers and teaches at his own studio. He is the former choral director at the Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison, and has been the organist and music director at United Congregational Church in Plainfield for over twenty years.
His accomplished music career substituted for his childhood plan to work in the theater. This plan was de-railed when Fred contracted polio at a young age, as did a brother and sister. In the early 1950’s, polio was a scourge that killed or crippled half a million people annually in the United States and worldwide before the development of the Salk and the Sabin vaccines.
Fred and his siblings were treated for polio and survived, although Fred suffered paralysis that changed his life. Unable to pursue his career in theater, he focused on his musical and vocal talents and became an accomplished performer. He counts himself lucky to have lived the life he has lived, despite its mobility limitations.
Fred was invited to speak to the local Rotary club as a polio survivor by Vicky Griswold, club member and owner of the Plainfield Music Store. “I just thought that we should hear Fred’s experiences since Rotary is so determined to eliminate polio in the world,” said Ms. Griswold.
The Rotary Foundation has been working with Rotary clubs and other organizations throughout the world to raise enough money to immunize all the world’s children against this dreaded disease. In recent years, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has joined with Rotary and pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to assist the campaign.
In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication through the mass vaccination of children. Rotary has contributed more than $1.6 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. In addition, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute more than $7.2 billion to the effort.
Polio is now endemic in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, with some resurgence in Nigeria that is also being addressed. The fight against polio is not limited to Rotarians. Anyone can donate to the PolioPlus effort by visiting www.endpolionow.org.
The Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield, founded in 1921, has served the community for over 95 years. Members are community and business leaders in the area who meet weekly on Wednesdays at 12:15 pm at Giovanna’s Restaurant in Plainfield.
If you would like to meet new people, become friends, and serve others, then come to Giovanna’s any Wednesday to learn more about how you can join or support this great service club. Contact Michael Townley, club secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information about the Rotary Club, and its activities or to inquire about membership, or visit the Club’s website at www.rotarypnp.org.
For additional information:
Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield, Michael R. Townley, Secretary at 908-822-1441 or www.Rotarypnp.org.