Rotary Club International President Wilfrid J. Wilkinson heaped praise on the Rotary Club of Elgin this week during his first-ever visit to the local chapter.
Elgin club president Mike McKay set the stage for Wilkinson's appearance at Elgin Community College's Fox Valley University and Business Center by presenting Wilkinson a giant-sized $50,000 check donated by Provena Saint Joseph Hospital and Sherman Health System. The funds will support Rotary International's campaign to eradicate polio, McKay said. He noted that Elgin Rotarians were able to line up matching grants by working with Rotary International and the Gates Foundation. As a result, he said, a total of $150,000 will be available to fight polio. "Another $20,000 was raised in a drive just completed last week by members of the (Elgin) club," McKay added. He also announced that Elgin Rotarians have created a video, also presented to Wilkinson, to raise awareness and fundraising dollars to fight polio. Wilkinson projected Rotary International's campaign to wipe out polio will net more than $100 million this year -- a milestone achieved in 2007. "Giving to the annual fund was up 17 percent over the previous year," he said. "I congratulate all clubs represented here," he said, citing members of the Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club and various suburban branches in attendance. Wilkinson vowed that Rotary International is in the fight to eradicate polio to the end. "And I think the end is getting very close," he added. He said projections made in 1985 by the World Health Organization suggesting the disease would be history by 2000 obviously were wrong -- but only because of forces beyond the organization's control. "All of these things have contributed to the delay." Wilkinson said. "Certainly no one understood how many people -- how many children -- there are in India, especially in the northern provinces." But Williamson says immunization efforts in the Middle East gradually are making headway. March 12, 2008