By:  Christ Theros Angelos, Project Leader “Foundation Whoop Ass!”, RC of Kennebunk

{Editor’s Note:  Bob Gravino, District Foundation Committee, Sub Chair Peace & Reconciliation, was so amazed by the work done in the Kennebunk Rotary Club for Polio month, that he asked for a larger front-page article in the November Newsletter.}

Each week during October I gave a ten-minute discussion on the history of Polio Plus. I recalled how Dr. Benny Santos submitted a proposal in 1979 to Rotary International’s  3H committee pledging that if Rotary purchased the polio vaccinations, the Philippine Rotarians would mobilize and eradicate polio from their country. This project was the catalyst for Rotary’s initiative to eradicate polio globally in 1985. Using the Philippine project as an example, I emphasized DG Claudia Frost’s comments during her presentation at our club that ideas /actions begin with Rotary Clubs and it is the District’s and RI‘s role to support these efforts and help bring them to scale.

I informed members that in 1985 there were up to 500,000 cases of polio worldwide yearly, and because of Rotary’s efforts, we are down to less than twenty cases, with polio now endemic only in two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. We discussed our partners in Polio Plus and their roles: WHO, CDC, UNICEF, and the Gates Foundation which will match donations of two dollars to each dollar donated by Rotarians.  The goal is to vaccinate 350 million children by 2026 utilizing a new oral vaccine that will not cause vaccine-induced polio.  I felt all this information was important prior to asking for donations since the majority of our current members had little knowledge of the intricacies of Polio Plus.

Then I asked members the reason why they became Rotarians, with all of them expressing the importance of helping people. I told every Kennebunk Rotarian that from that day forward we will all answer that question with one word, “Agape.”  The Greek word “Agape” translates into love for all humanity. We are all Rotarians, I said, because we have agape in our hearts and souls, and that agape is demonstrated through action. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return.

We will be using agape as our theme during DGN Bob Mackenzie’s year as District Governor and for our theme at our District Conference.  It is hard to write about agape and have people understand its meaning because it is a message best delivered in person and with passion. I related that I felt there is no finer example of Rotary International’s commitment to agape than our efforts to eradicate polio globally.

Thus, our metaphor - the can of Foundation Whoop Ass.  We are all constantly bombarded with requests for donations, so I wanted to use something fun and tangible while asking members for donations. Kennebunk Club members metaphorically and collectively opened our purchased cans of Whoop Ass on the polio virus giving it a beat down to eradication.  I gave a photocopy of the “can” to Rotarians and asked members to place the picture somewhere/anywhere so that when they see it, they will be reminded of the millions of children who will never know the horror of Polio because of Rotary and our contributions.

I would be very happy to discuss this with any members from other clubs who have an interest in using our metaphor to encourage donations. We are Rotarians dedicated to agape and there is no proprietary protection!!  You can reach me here.