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Polio survivor takes campaign to government, business leaders

RAMESH FERRIS has taken the Rotary International campaign to eradicate polio to the highest levels of government and business leaders.  - PHOTO SUBMITTED
RAMESH FERRIS has taken the Rotary International campaign to eradicate polio to the highest levels of government and business leaders.
— image credit: PHOTO SUBMITTED

Rotary member and polio survivor Ramesh Ferris of Whitehorse, Yukon, will share his personal story and Rotary’s fight to eradicate the crippling disease this Saturday in Courtenay.

He will appear at the Sock it to Polio Fundraiser at Simms Millennium Park from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Everyone is invited to enjoy a pancake breakfast (by donation), walk around the park and listen to an entertaining and inspirational talk by Ramesh. Bring your spare change or currency of any kind to help us fill a giant sock.

For every dollar raised, two more dollars will be donated thanks to the Government of Canada and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. All funds raised will be used to eradicate polio.

Born in Tamil Nadu, India, Ferris was infected by polio when he was six months old. He was adopted by Canadian parents at age two and, after numerous surgeries and physical rehabilitation, learned to walk with crutches.

Ferris first made news in 2008, when he hand-cycled across Canada to help Rotary raise awareness and funds to fight the disease that still threatens children in parts of Africa and Asia. Ferris cycled more than 7,110 km by bicycle over 173 days.

“Ramesh is an inspirational speaker that everyone should hear. This is a rare opportunity not to miss,” says Courtenay Rotary president Rod Hunter.

Ferris has more recently toured the world sharing his personal message in the fight to end polio.

In February, he attended the polio summit in New Delhi, India, where the World Health Organization removed India from the polio-endemic list. He has also made recent advocacy trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, two of the countries that remain polio-endemic.

“Rotary’s fight against polio has such a personal connection for me,” said Ferris. “To be able to prevent children from suffering through the same pain and suffering that marred my childhood is something that truly touches my heart.”

Rotary’s top priority for more than 25 years has been polio eradication. To date, Rotary has contributed more than US$1 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than two billion children from polio.

Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have reduced the incidence of polio by more than 99 per cent. The final pone per cent needs to be eradicated to keep this disease from spreading again.

— Courtenay Rotary Club

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