This may be news to you or perhaps a little surprising, but polio is still crippling children and others around the world. Many younger Americans may ask, “What is polio?”
Here’s a quick answer: “Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus, which spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis, and perhaps death.”
Rotary International has been leading the effort to eradicate this horrible disease for more than four decades and the Rotary Club of Farragut and Knoxville’s other Rotary clubs are invested in this effort. The eradication of polio globally is Rotary’s No. 1 goal. Polio is very contagious. It remains active in only two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Thus, this saying evolved: “The U.S. population is only a jet plane ride away from polio returning.” Rotary has allies in this fight – the CDS, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and a growing number of countries.
And a part of this effort involves “Purple Pinkie Donut Day” from Dunkin’ Donuts and its owner locally, Dave Baumgartner.
This year’s 6th annual Dunkin’ Purple Pinkie Donut Day across Tennessee has begun. This effort is part of World Rotary Day worldwide on Wednesday, October 25. It is our major fundraiser for World Rotary Day that will be celebrated on October 24.
Now, the next question: Why Purple Pinkie donuts? Here’s the answer: In countries where the threat of polio remains, children still receive their polio vaccine by mouth. When vaccinating millions of children in a short period of time it is impossible to document, so every child has their little finger (pinkie) nail of their left hand painted with an indelible purple marker to ensure they only receive one dose. This is how the “Purple Pinkie” has become a symbol of a polio-free world.
Baumgartner and his team began this effort five years ago, making donuts with purple icing. Rotarians buy the donuts for their families, friends and offices and also donate many to non-profits, schools, and our law enforcement and first-responder professionals, among others.
Over the last five years, Rotarians locally and statewide have raised just under $5 million for the eradication of polio and our goal this year is to add another $1.5 million statewide in Tennessee and Alabama. This fundraiser takes advantage of several matching fund opportunities and turns every dollar you donate into $7.50. This 7.5x match means your $25 donation becomes $187.50 and you get a free box of Purple Pinkie Donuts as a thank you.
This fundraiser is vital to adding to the global effort to end polio forever.
Before polio vaccines became available in the 1950s, polio paralyzed more than 15,000 annually in the U.S. Thanks to widespread polio vaccination, wild polio was eliminated – with no cases occurring here since 1979.
Rotarians know how to order the donuts but this is also open to the public to join with us in ending polio. You can click on this link (https://www.purplepinkiedonuts.org) to learn more about this project and order your donuts online and make a $25 (or more) donation.
The pick-up day for the donuts at the Dunkin’ Donut shops around town is Wednesday October 25.
Tom King is a career journalist and a past president of the Rotary Club of Farragut, which meets each Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at the Farragut Community Center, 239 Jamestown Blvd. If you want more information about Rotary or are interested in attending a meeting or joining, please email Tom or text him at 865-659-3562.