A group of Rotarians will be seeing Italy the old-fashioned way in September—on foot, on a 340-mile trek along the Via Francisco from Firenze (Florence) to Assisi to Rome, following the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. Rotarians from the Rotary Club for Global Action and the E-Club of District 5190 in northeastern California and northern Nevada will join members of the Rotary Club of Firenze Sud and the Rotary Club of Firenze Valdisieve for the journey. When they reach Rome, other Rotarians, including Past District Governor Giovambattista Mollicone and Rotary International Director Alberto Cecchini, will greet them to celebrate their accomplishment.
Such a long walk might seem like a challenging endeavor, but in comparison to the effort to eradicate polio globally, it’s almost a cakewalk. Helen Hankins and Mike Mauser, members of the Rotary Club for Global Action, came up with the idea after hiking along the Camino Frances from the south of France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, “We are walking to raise awareness worldwide about the importance of eradicating polio,” says Helen. “We are close to eradicating polio; it is endemic in only two countries now. It is exciting to be so close after so many years.”
Jim Ludwick, president of the Rotary e-Club of District 5190, will join Mike and Helen. He’s spent time in Italy and is an experienced fundraiser, and “As soon as I heard about this fundraiser, I knew I had to go,” he said. Walkers can do the entire distance or any part of the walk. Space is still available, and participants pay their own expenses. Anyone who’s interested should contact Helen. It doesn’t take a trip to Italy, however, to be part of the action. Any individual or club can participate in virtual walks and distance-matching to raise funds for Polio Plus.
The recent diagnosis of a case of polio in New York is a reminder that completely wiping out polio is an elusive goal. The aim of the walk is to raise funds as well as awareness for Polio Plus and help put it one step closer—un passo in avanti—to putting polio behind us forever. The fundraising goal is $75,000, and donations will help vaccinate children against the disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match every dollar raised with two dollars, thus tripling donations.
Show your support for fellow Rotarians who are setting out on this meaningful adventure by making a donation. To learn more and find out how to get involved virtually or in person, go to https://raise.rotary.org/Global-Action/fundraiser .
As a founding partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary International has been working to eradicate polio for more than 30 years. Among the accomplishments, it has helped to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries and reduce cases of polio by more than 99.9%.  Find out more about Polio Plus at https://www.rotary.org/en/plus-polioplus.