News & Events

Presque Isle Rotary Club, UMPI present World Polio Day

The day’s 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 celebrate World Polio Day on Wednesday, Oct. 24, in a big way – presenting a day’s 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.

The day will include a Purple Pinkie Project event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the UMPI Campus Center, and also at three sponsoring organizations at various times throughout the day to help bring the project citywide – the Aroostook Centre Mall, Northern Maine Community College, and The Aroostook Medical Center. Volunteers will be on hand to paint your pinkie purple for $1 to help raise money for polio eradication. Funds raised will go toward Rotary International’s End Polio Now efforts. In the evening, TAMC presents its 30th Storer Boone Memorial Presentation also honoring Dr. Arthur Pendleton of Fort Fairfield – titled End Polio Now – at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center.

“We are so excited to host this event for our community and share with everyone Rotary’s efforts to end polio now,” Joy Barresi Saucier, Presque Isle Rotary Club President, said. “The evening presentation is going to be an excellent opportunity to reflect on how far we have come and look forward to the day when the disease is gone. And the Purple Pinkie Project is going to be a great way to get the community involved in a very hands-on way and provide them with a reminder of how it really makes a difference. It’s been wonderful to partner with UMPI to make all of this happen.”

“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 look forward to seeing many purple pinkies out in the community on Oct. 24.”

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.

The day’s Purple Pinkie Project will raise funds to help out with that remaining 1 percent. 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 called Gentian Violet to prevent double dosages. The dye’s safety has been confirmed by doctors and pharmacists – it’s widely used by nursing mothers and in the mouths of infants – however, Gentian Violet is brilliantly purple and will leave your finger colored for a day or two.

UMPI students and staff and local Rotarians will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in UMPI’s Campus Center to paint 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:

  • At NMCC, in the Christie Lobby, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Members of UMPI’s Student Education Association of Maine, UMPI Education Majors, and NMCC students will staff this table.
  • At the Aroostook Centre Mall, near the Dollar Tree, from 9-10:45 a.m. UMPI Business Majors will staff this table.
  • At the Aroostook Centre Mall, in the Food Court, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of UMPI’s radio station WUPI-92.1FM, student newspaper the University Times, and the Professional Communication and Journalism 212 class will staff this table.
  • At TAMC, Main Entrance and Pinkham Entrance, from 1-3 p.m. Members of UMPI’s BioMedical Club and NMCC students will staff these tables.

“We hope our Purple Pinkie Project will serve as a great reminder, long after each individual’s donation, of the real difference they’re helping us to make,” said Tim Doak, who is co-chairing the event with fellow Presque Isle Rotarian Rachel Rice. “By partnering with us, each of them becomes a part of the solution to polio, and their purple pinkie will be their own personal reminder of one more child saved from the polio virus.”

Also during the day, posters, handouts, and other informational materials on polio in Aroostook County and around the world will be on display throughout the Campus Center. In addition, UMPI’s Student Organization of Social Work will have an information table in the Owl’s Nest about polio’s impacts in Africa, Central America and Pakistan. As well, a video about polio created by UMPI Professional Communication students will play on the e-bulletin boards around campus.

TAMC’s 30th Storer Boone Memorial Presentation, also honoring Dr. Arthur Pendleton of Fort Fairfield, will take place that evening with an End Polio Now presentation about the disease and efforts to eradicate it at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center. This program is dedicated in memory of Dr. Storer Boone, 1894-1981, and will include talks by a local polio survivor, a TAMC physician discussing polio in one of the few countries where it remains, and a Rotarian sharing details about Rotary’s journey to eradicate polio. The Aroostook Medical Center (TAMC) designates this educational activity for up to 1 hour of Category 1 AMA PRA CME credit.

Ahead of the Boone presentation, 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 one last chance to get their pinkies painted purple. Officials will announce how much was raised as part of the day’s Purple Pinkie Project at the event’s close.

“This is going to be such a fun, informative, and action-packed day. We hope to see many community members taking part in our World Polio Day activities,” Barresi Saucier said. “Many people have seen and heard the Rotary International service announcements featuring famous public figures – from Bill Gates to Jackie Chan to Dr. Jane Goodall – explaining how ‘We are this close’ to ending polio. And we’re very excited to have our event help to narrow that gap just a little bit more.”

The day’s events are open to the public. For more information, contact UMPI’s Community and Media Relations Office at 768-9452.