Santa’s helper leverages dollars for polio eradication

Santa, aka Rotarian Bruce Templeton, in Canada.

Santa paying a visit to a children’s hospital in Canada.

By Bruce Templeton, a member of the Rotary Club of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

While I know that RI President-elect Ron Burton’s theme is “Engage Rotary: Change Lives,” I would like to add the thought that we can multiply the dollars we raise engaging Rotary before we turn them over to those who change lives.

I live in St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada. I am a Rotarian but also a good friend of Santa Claus and he and I have travelled together for 34 years. We make about 50 visits a year to children’s groups, seniors’ homes, parades and children’s hospitals. Some of the visits are very happy and some will break your heart.

Last year, I wrote a book called “The Man in the Red Suit.” It was printed four times and made the best seller list in Canada. But the Rotary connection was when my wife said “why don’t we donate our writer’s first printing proceeds to Rotary’s PolioPlus fund?”

I thought about that for a while and then set about to take what we would donate and see how much I could leverage through matched funding from local companies before the money went to RI. That was a great deal of fun and within a few days, we turned $5,000 into $30,000. Then the Government of Canada matched the $30,000 and so did the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. So $5,000 “engaged by Rotary” turned into $90,000, and we can now buy the vaccine for 150,000 children to “change lives.”

Bruce Templeton meets with Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration at the World Health Organization.

Bruce Templeton meets with Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration at the World Health Organization.

When I sat with Dr. Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization, who was visiting here in Newfoundland from Geneva, we talked about his mandate to eliminate polio in the world.  I went home that night thinking about the 150,000 children.

I don’t know whether the children are in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, or Nigeria. But they are out there somewhere and the proceeds of a little book (and a Rotary wife’s suggestion!) will “Engage Rotary and Change Lives.”

Source: Rotary Voices

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