Polio at the Paralympics

With the largest audience the Games have ever garnered, polio-affected athletes have joined the fight to end the disease which paralyzed them.

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Footballer Dennis Ogbe of Nigeria is just one of some 25 athletes living with polio participating in events from wheelchair basketball to powerlifting at the Games. They come from countries as different and far-flung as the Great Britain, US, Nigeria, India and South Africa. Paralympians living with polio know well the full impact of the disease. Their own personal paths to reach the top of their sport at the global level is a powerful metaphor for the global fight to eradicate the disease.

Paralympic athletes at the garden party sponsored by Rotary International, in association with UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the British Pakistan Foundation, and the Global Poverty Project.

Jordi Matas
Three such athletes were the stars at a garden party in London sponsored by Rotary International, in association with UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the British Pakistan Foundation, and the Global Poverty Project. The party capitalized on the excitement surrounding the opening day of the 2012 Paralympic Games on 30 August to rally government dignitaries from the United Kingdom and Pakistan to raise funds for Paralympic athletes and Rotary’s PolioPlus program.

“We wanted to celebrate the achievements of these amazing athletes and Rotary’s hard work towards polio eradication,” says Judith A. Diment, PolioPlus national advocacy adviser for the UK and a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor St. George, England. “Both groups have persevered through great odds to be where we’re at today.”

The event raised thousands of dollars for PolioPlus and the Pakistani Paralympic Committee and advocated for a polio-free world. Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom, praised Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan and spoke about his government’s commitment to step up resources to rid his country of the disease. More


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