Polio survivor inspires support for ending the disease

Ten days before his 21st birthday, David Goldstone lay in a hospital bed near Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, his arms and legs paralyzed by polio, his body gripped by fever and in terrible pain. His hospital admission form read, “Life expectancy: 24 hours.”

Six days later, Goldstone emerged from a semi-coma and was moved out of isolation into a children’s ward; adult polio victims were and still are relatively rare. “You will probably never walk again,” the hospital’s chief medical officer told him.

“I will,” Goldstone replied.

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Circumnavigating Australia to raise money for polio eradication

As this story goes to print, three men in two rubber dinghies have just arrived at King Island in the south of Australia. These three men are no ordinary local fisherman, however – the trio have braved crocodiles and high seas to raise awareness and funds for polio eradication by circumnavigating the island continent.

The journey is the brainchild of travel entrepreneur, philanthropist and Rotarian, Robert Pennicott. Joined by fellow skipper Mick Souter and cameraman Zorro Gamarnik, the three began the 12,000 nautical mile journey on 31 May in Sydney. Since that time, the crew have travelled in an anti-clockwise direction around Australia for 85 days in two 5.4 metre (18 ft) rubber dinghies. Along the way they have seen crocodiles, whales, dolphins, flying fish and thousands of kilometres of rugged coastline and sandy beaches. It is currently estimated that the crew will reach Sydney once more on 7 September (dependent on weather).

Those interested in the journey are asked to donate, or to bid for the chance to join the crew for a leg of the journey. So far donations have exceeded AUS$ 150,000, including a bid of $3,000 for a trip from Port Gregory to Geraldton in Western Australia. By far the biggest portion of the donations will go to help eradicate polio – 92% of the donations will go to Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign and 8% will go to the conservation work of the Pennicott Foundation.

For more on their journey, including blogs and videos, visit follow.theyellowboatroad.com.


During Rotary’s 104th anniversary, floodlight messages across some of the world’s most iconic landmarks are lit with the message “End Polio Now”

The “End Polio Now” message is beamed on to the Sydney Opera House, Australia Mark Wallace/Rotary Down Under
The “End Polio Now” message is beamed on to the Sydney Opera House, Australia
Mark Wallace/Rotary Down Under

From Sydney’s Opera House to Rome’s Coliseum, from Cape Town’s Table Mountain to New York’s High Falls, Rotary’s commitment to “End Polio Now” is lighting up the night sky. Every night this week – Rotary’s 104th anniversary – floodlit messages across some of the world’s most iconic landmarks will call on the millions that see them to join the remarkable 20-year campaign to rid the world of polio.

“By illuminating these historic landmarks with our pledge to end polio, Rotary clubs are announcing to the world that we will not stop until the goal is achieved,” says Jonathan Majiyagbe, the Rotary Foundation’s trustee chair. “We hope people everywhere will see these words, either in person or through the media, and join with us and our partners in this historic effort to rid the world of polio once and for all.”
This year, Rotary has committed to raising $200 million to be spent in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a partnership spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF.