Posted Jan. 15, 2016 at 8:00 AM
The Gloucester Rotary Club will host clubs from Rotary District 7930 (Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire) for the sixth annual Polar Plunge on Jan. 23 at Long Beach in Gloucester, as part of Rotary International’s ongoing campaign to eradicate polio in this lifetime.
Plunge attendees are asked to park at Good Harbor Beach and take a shuttle (provided by CATA, Beauport Ambulance and the Cape Ann YMCA) to Long Beach. The plunge will take place at 11:15 a.m., so attendees should plan to arrive at Good Harbor Beach by 10:45 a.m. to have adequate time to take the shuttle to Long Beach.
More than 450 people, including members of the Rotary Club of Reading, the Reading Memorial High School Interact Club and Wakefield’s HD Physical Therapy, are expected to plunge into the waters off Cape Ann. In 2015, more than 300 people braved the icy waters, raising more than $120,000 and significantly increasing the previous year’s amount.
Since 1985, polio has become the signature cause for Rotary International, as it has teamed up with partners including The Global Poverty Project, The Global Eradication Initiative, The World Health Organization and UNICEF. More than a billion dollars have since been raised among Rotary clubs worldwide and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
When Rotary International took on the battle against this disease, more than 350,000 people spanning 125 countries were suffering from polio. Presently, two countries await eradication: Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nigeria marked a year without a new case in September 2015 and was removed from the endemic list.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged a 2:1 match for every dollar Rotarians and friends raise toward eradication efforts (up to $35 million per year until 2018).
The Reading Club has set a goal of $2,500 to aid in the district’s goal of raising $125,000. Supporters can donate electronically, make a pledge or join the plunge team at readingmarotary.org or at rotary7930.org, by clicking on “2015 Polar Plunge.” For information on how the Reading Rotary serves the local and global community: firstname.lastname@example.org; readingmarotary.org.