The basement and sanctuary at Cedaredge United Methodist Church were packed last Wednesday as area residents gathered to celebrate the town's Rotary Club and the club's commitment to world-wide causes.
Joe Agne, pastor of the church and incoming president of the Cedaredge Rotary Club, hosted the evening which featured a pasta dinner prepared by church members. The installation ceremony recognized the following Rotarians: Agne as incoming Rotary president; Steve DeFeyter, past president; Phyllis Hoffman, president-elect; Linda Lichtendahl, secretary; Gloria Good, treasurer; Dave Pipkin, sergeant-at-arms; Richard Udd, Cedaredge Rotary Foundation president; and Paul Lyons and Phil Ellsworth, members-at-large.
The club installation ceremony was followed by an inspirational speech by Kelly Atkinson. Atkinson, a former Utah state legislator, helped found his local Rotary club 31 years ago and he travels on behalf of Rotary International promoting the organization and its Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
Thanks to Rotary and the organization's partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the number of worldwide polio cases has been reduced from a total 25 years ago of 350,000 to only 12 reported this year. In 1993 when Rotary began its current effort, 183 countries were in the grip of polio. This year, polio has been eradicated in all but two countries: Afganistan with nine cases and Pakistan with three.
"Rotary is in this fight to win," Atkinson declared. The organization and the Gates Foundation will continue to raise funds to insure that people worldwide are perpetually protected against the return of polio. Donations to Rotary are matched three-for-one by the Gates Foundation and the joint efforts of these two organizations fund ongoing programs which promote sanitation, safe drinking water, and regular polio inoculations to keep the disease at bay. Atkinson invited his audience to get involved in Rotary and to donate funds to the Rotary Foundation which delivers 100 percent of every dollar donated to the fight to eradicate polio.
Following last week's event, Pastor Agne reported that the Celebrate Rotary raised nearly $5,000 which will be used to inoculate an estimated 52,000 children against polio. The fight to end polio and prevent its return is ongoing and anyone wishing to donate to the cause can send a contribution to: The Rotary Club of Cedaredge Foundation, PO Box 750, Cedaredge, CO 81413. And those interested in joining the local Rotary Club are invited to visit the group any Tuesday at noon for its weekly meeting at RJ's Steakhouse, 2323 South Grand Mesa Drive (Hwy. 65) in Cedaredge.