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Bike ride to benefit PolioPlus project

| Tuesday, April 8, 2003

SCOTTDALE - Scottdale Rotary is planning a bike ride on April 12 to benefit the PolioPlus project.

The 50-mile ride is projected to start from Dawson and proceed 25 miles along the Yough River Trail through Cedar Creek Park and return to Dawson. This event is part of the worldwide effort to eradicate polio.

There are just seven countries that reported active polio virus in 2001, and more national immunization days are planned. Rotary International has reactivated its effort, begun in 1985. Rotary has been working with organizations such as the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control to bring this campaign to a close. The goal is a polio-free world by 2005.

The Western Hemisphere, which includes North and South America has been declared polio-free since 1991 when Luis Fermin Tenorio, Peru, was identified as the last polio-stricken child in the Americas. (For a polio time-line including 1955, when the 1.8 million school children participate in trials of the Salk vaccine, see http://www.rotary.org/foundation/polioplus/news/milestones/index.html .)

Residents remember

In this area, people remember the days when polio was a threat. Dave Yoder, a 50-something printer from Scottdale, remembers a trip the school kids took to see a person in an iron lung. Polio had paralyzed the person's breathing muscles and without the room-sized machine, he/she would not be able to breathe.

Scottdale resident Winifred Paul was a 3-year-old in Hesston, Kan., when she was infected. "They said I could stay in the hospital for physical therapy, or have it done at home." Since the therapy consisted of massaging the affected leg for 15 minutes morning and night, Paul's family decided they could handle it and took her home.

Rosalyn Ledyard, a long-time Scottdale resident now living in Lancaster, Pa., remembers a lot of personal stress as a teenager when people teased her about the physical difference that resulted from polio.

Infected at age 12 in Leo, Ind., Ledyard remembers 11 days in the hospital and missing school from Sept. 10 until Thanksgiving.

"I needed to learn to walk all over again," she says. The disease had destroyed the nerves to one leg.

David Hiebert recalls that his younger sister was infected as a toddler. As she grew, one leg was always smaller, and the family would have to buy two pair of shoes - one pair for the larger foot and another pair for the smaller foot. This, plus the major medical costs of surgery to correct the unbalanced growth, were growing-up issues for his family.

Others recall some of the long-term effects in the Fay-West area.

During one of the outbreaks in this area, the Mount Vernon swimming pool was closed, never to recover from the affect of the scare.

Carl Schafer, Scottdale Rotary president in 1981-82, recalls the beginning of the fund-raising for PolioPlus. "We had to start in 1982 so the money would be available by 1985 (the beginning) because the Rotary Foundation holds money for three years before releasing it for projects."

According to Rotary president-elect Hiebert, "This ride is important because it will show that our part of the country remembers the harm done by this crippling disease and we want to be sure that no one is infected by polio again."

Riders will be given the opportunity to share names of people they know who were affected by the disease.

Called the 50/50 Ride for PolioPlus, the benefit is scheduled to take advantage of the 50/50 matching grant (up to $25 million for Rotary International) provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

PolioPlus is an international effort to eradicate polio from the world. The ride is planned for the Yough River Trail on April 12, with registration and turning in sponsor money from 9 to 10 a.m. The ride will begin as soon as the rider is registered.

A light lunch for riders will be provided at Cedar Creek Park between noon and 2 p.m. The support table at Dawson will stay open until 5 p.m. to allow people time to return.

For sponsor forms or more information, contact Hiebert at 724-875-3050 or e-mail: hiebert@zoominternet.net .

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