News & Events

Central Aroostook Rotary clubs, UMPI present 3rd annual World Polio Day

Purple Pinkie Project to raise funds for polio eradication

The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Presque Isle Rotary Club are joining forces to host their Third Annual World Polio Day and Purple Pinkie Project celebration and this year, with the help of the Rotary Clubs in Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Limestone and Washburn, the celebration is going to spread throughout central Aroostook County. A slate of activities will take place between Oct. 18 and Oct. 26 to celebrate World Polio Day, which takes place Oct. 24. All activities are meant to raise awareness of Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio worldwide and to raise money — $1 at a time – to go toward that global effort.

On Oct. 24, and during several other times throughout the week, organizers and volunteers will “paint” the region purple when they present the Purple Pinkie Project. For $1, volunteers will color your pinkie purple to help raise money for polio eradication. A purple pinkie serves as a symbol for one polio immunization. Funds raised will go toward Rotary International’s End Polio Now efforts.

“We are so pleased to be presenting the 3rd annual World Polio Day event for our community and sharing with everyone Rotary’s worldwide efforts to end polio now,” Scott Violette, Presque Isle Rotary Club President, said. “We look forward to seeing hundreds of purple pinkies on Oct. 24 and throughout the week, and encourage everyone to wear purple, especially on Oct. 24, in celebration.”

Activities kick off on Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. in the Fort Fairfield Community Center, when the Fort Fairfield Rotary Club hosts a Purple Pinkie table during its 2014 Cash Draw event. On Oct. 20 and 22, Purple Pinkie tables will be set up during the Presque Isle and Caribou Rotary Clubs’ respective weekly Noontime meetings. On Oct. 23, Presque Isle Rotarians will be on hand when Presque Isle High School hosts a Purple Pinkie station in the morning, and when Presque Isle Middle School hosts one during lunchtime. A Purple Pinkie station will also be set up for employees at MMG Insurance (staffed by UMPI Business Club members) on Oct. 23.

In celebration of the official World Polio Day on Oct. 24, Rotarians across central Aroostook County will be wearing purple polo “polio” shirts to spread awareness of Rotary’s End Polio Now efforts. In addition, starting as early as 8 a.m., community members can take part in the Purple Pinkie Project. Similar Purple Pinkie projects have been held by Rotary Clubs around the country, with people donating $1 to have their pinkies marked with the same purple dye used when Rotary International conducts polio immunizations. The estimated cost to immunize one child from polio is $1, and when each child gets immunized, Rotarians mark their pinkies with a topical purple dye to prevent double dosages.

Volunteers will be on hand to color the pinkies of anyone willing to donate $1 toward Rotary International’s “End Polio Now” campaign (or get multiple digits painted for $1 each). Community members are encouraged to visit any of four Purple Pinkie stations that will be set up on Oct. 24:

• At UMPI, in the Center for Innovative Learning (formerly the Library), from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
• At NMCC, in the Akeley Student Center, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. UMPI and NMCC students will staff this table.
• At TAMC, Main Entrance and cafeteria, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Members of UMPI’s BioMedical Club will staff these tables.
• At UMPI’s Houlton Higher Education Center, at the front desk, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

On the evening of Oct. 24, during the Limestone Rotary Club’s 64th Annual Auction, Limestone Rotarians will shine a spotlight on World Polio Day. Club members will wear their purple polo polio shirts and take time during the auction—which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Limestone Community School/MSSM Auditorium—to raise awareness about Rotary International’s polio eradication efforts.

Activities cap-off with one last Purple Pinkie table, being hosted by the Caribou Rotary Club during the Caribou Craft Fair on Oct. 25-26 at Caribou High School. The club will not only host the table from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 25 and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Oct. 26, but also will display an iron lung on loan from Eastern Maine Medical Center.

“Having the iron lung there really drives home what polio does to children, which is why we’re doing this activity in the first place—to save children from this disease,” said Steve Mazerolle, co-chairperson for Caribou’s Purple Pinkie Project with Mark Draper. “We encourage everyone to come see the iron lung and support Rotary International’s efforts to achieve polio eradication worldwide.”

One other Central Aroostook Rotary Club has looked for special ways to observe World Polio Day. The Washburn Rotary Clubalready held a “Skip-A-Meal” activity, with proceeds going to the Purple Pinkie Project, and had so much fun with it that the club intends to do it again soon. Washburn Rotarians also will be hosting Rodney and Barbara Leach to talk about their connection with the disease—Barbara Leach is a polio survivor. Rodney Leach shared the couple’s story during last year’s 2nd annual World Polio Day celebration.

This year’s World Polio Day activities carry on a tradition of raising many local dollars for, and even more awareness about, Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio. The first annual World Polio Day and Purple Pinkie Project event, held in October 2012, saw an estimated 1,000 people in the community participate and initially raised $1,250. An anonymous donation of $1,000, however, pushed the fundraising total to well above $2,000. Last year’s event raised another $1,775 and saw an even greater number of community members participate.

Polio has not been a problem in the U.S. for many years, but this is not the case in several developing countries. In 1985, Rotary International began raising funds in an effort to eliminate polio worldwide. By partnering with the World Health Organization and other government and private groups, Rotary International has achieved a 99 percent reduction of polio worldwide. However, there are still three countries where polio is endemic—Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. To completely wipe out polio, Rotary International is raising funds and mobilizing volunteers to bring immunization projects to these areas.

“We’re delighted to be collaborating with Rotary clubs in central Aroostook County, and with several other organizations in our community, to create greater awareness about polio and the worldwide efforts to eradicate it,” UMPI President Linda Schott said. “We hope to see many community members taking part in all aspects of our World Polio Day activities.”

This year’s event is being sponsored by TAMC, NMCC, and MMG Insurance. For more information, contact UMPI’s Community and Media Relations Office at 768-9452 or visit www.umpi.edu/worldpolioday.