The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Presque Isle Rotary Club are joining forces to celebrate World Polio Day on Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 23 and 24, in a big way – presenting two days' worth of activities 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.
Together, they will host a special community kick-off on Wednesday, October 23 at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center. The community is invited to learn more about World Polio Day and polio eradication efforts during the program. This event is free and open to the public.
The very next day, organizers and volunteers plan to "paint" the city purple when they present the Purple Pinkie Project.
Volunteers will be on hand on Thursday, Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the UMPI Campus Center, and also at 10 other sites throughout Presque Isle—including TAMC, Northern Maine Community College, MMG Insurance, the Aroostook Centre Mall, Graves Shop 'N Save, Bradley's Citgo, Maine Public Service and Star City Coffee—staffing Purple Pinkie Project tables and stations. 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 very excited to be hosting our 2nd annual World Polio Day event for our community and sharing with everyone Rotary's worldwide efforts to end polio now," Ralph McPherson, Presque Isle Rotary Club President, said. "The community kick-off presentation on Oct. 23 gives us a chance to reflect on how far we've come and dream of the day when polio is truly gone. The Purple Pinkie Project was extremely successful last year and we look forward to seeing hundreds of purple pinkies on Oct. 24 in support of Rotary's polio eradication efforts."
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.
"To that anonymous donor, our club—and everyone else involved in our Purple Pinkie Project—would like to say how much we appreciate such a generous gift," McPherson said. "It allowed more than 1,000 children around the world to receive the polio vaccine. We would love to be able to exceed last year's fundraising total and positively impact the lives of even more children who need to be protected from this awful disease."
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.
To share details about this worldwide effort with the community, the Presque Isle Rotary Club and UMPI will host the Official World Polio Day Kick-Off Presentation, End Polio Now, at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 in the Campus Center. The presentation will include talks by a local polio survivor, a local physician discussing polio in one of the few countries where it remains, and a Rotarian sharing details about Rotary's journey to eradicate polio. Ahead of the official program, there will be a Purple Pinkie Project station set up from 6:30-7 p.m. on the second floor of the Campus Center to give attendees the opportunity to get their pinkies painted purple a day early.
Starting as early as 7 a.m. on Oct. 24, 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.
UMPI students and staff will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in UMPI's Owl's Nest, located on the first floor of the Campus Center, 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 also encouraged to visit any of the stations that will be set up throughout the day in the community:
- At Star City Coffee, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- At NMCC, in the Christie Lobby, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. UMPI and NMCC Education students will staff this table.
- At the Aroostook Centre Mall, in the Food Court, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- At Bradley's Citgo, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- At TAMC, Main Entrance and North Street Healthcare Entrance, from 1-3 p.m. Members of UMPI's BioMedical Club will staff these tables.
- At the Graves Shop 'N Save, from 2 to 5 p.m. Members of UMPI's radio station WUPI-92.1FM, student newspaper the University Times, and Professional Communication and Journalism students will staff this table.
Purple Pinkie stations will also be set up for employees at MMG Insurance (staffed by UMPI Business Club members) and Maine Public Service Company.
"We're delighted to be collaborating with the Presque Isle Rotary Club, 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. "Many of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners are working very hard to put this event together and we hope to see many community members taking part in all aspects of our World Polio Day activities."
This year's event, which has grown significantly from last year, is being sponsored by TAMC, NMCC, MMG Insurance, and University Credit Union, and supported by the Aroostook Centre Mall, Graves Shop 'N Save, Bradley's Citgo, Maine Public Service Company, and Star City Coffee. For more information, contact UMPI's Community and Media Relations Office at 768-9452 or visit www.umpi.edu/worldpolioday.