By Doug Biggs
On Nov. 17, a group of cyclists from the Alameda Rotary Club will join 200 other Rotarians in the Ride to End Polio in Tucson, Ariz. Together the riders have committed to raising $300,000, which will provide immunizations to more than half a million children.
The Ride to End Polio is part of the El Tour de Tucson Ride, one of the premier cycling events in the country. The event attracts more than 9,000 cyclists a year, and its organizers encourage participants to use the ride to raise money for worthy causes.
Phil Holt rode the full 111 miles in the event last year, and encouraged other local Rotarians to form a cycling team dubbed the Rough Riders. The Riders have participated in numerous charity rides throughout Northern California, raising funds for a variety of charities, but also raising funds for every ride that go to local Alameda charities and scholarships.
In the last year the team raised more than $5,000 for Alameda causes.
Rotarians like taking on big challenges, but nothing comes close to the challenge of ending Polio forever. Rotary took on the fight to end polio in 1985.
At that time there were over 350,000 cases annually and 125 countries were polio-endemic. Since then, polio cases have been reduced by 99 percent and only three countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan) remain where transmission of the wild poliovirus has never been stopped.
When Polio is finally eradicated, it will be only the second time in history that a disease is wiped from the face of the earth.
While this will be a repeat ride for member Holt, the other two riders will be participating in the Ride for the first time. Reppert is a veteran of the AIDS ride — an epic ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but Biggs just took up bike riding in the spring. He will be going for the full 111-mile route.
Anyone who wishes to support the riders can send a check, made out to the Rotary Foundation to Alameda Rotary Club 1151 Harbor Bay Parkway, Suite 204, Alameda, CA 94501.