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December 5--  In the mid-80's, Rotary Clubs around the world took on the mission of eliminating polio from the face of the earth.  Today, just about 26 years later, the job is almost complete.

Rotary District Governor Gordon Matthews of Savannah visited Vidalia and told local Rotarians about the effort.{mosimage}

"It started in a very simple place on an island where some Rotarians decided they wanted to eliminate polio on the island.  They succeeded and someone asked how much it would cost to eliminate it around the world.  They estimated five hundred million dollars, which was off by a factor of about ten, so it is a very audacious goal to eliminate a disease.  This would be only the second disease to be eliminated, smallpox was first, and now we are only a few hundred cases from eliminating it polio on the whole planet," Matthews says.

The District Governor visited India where the last cases of polio exist and where Rotarians are making a full court press to wipe them out.

"I saw the impact of polio by seeing people on the street who are crippled by the disease.  The last cases in our country were in 1957, but there are still a few active cases in that huge country of 1.2 billion people and they are making tremendous progress in that very challenging environment," Matthews reports.

"I wanted to see for myself what our fellow Rotarians in India were doing.  I saw some surgery where they were correcting the limbs of some lucky kids who got some treatment.  It makes me proud to be a Rotarian," he said.