Cyclists raise nearly $3 million in Miles to End Polio ride

Cyclists raise nearly $3 million in Miles to End Polio ride

Riders set off on the 2015 El Tour de Tucson in Arizona, USA.
James S. Wood Photography
The Miles to End Polio team (top left) joins other riders at the starting line of the 104-mile (167 km) ride.
James S. Wood Photography
Rotary General Secretary John Hewko speeds through a turn near the beginning of the race. Hewko completed the 104-mile course for the fourth straight year.
James S. Wood Photography
Billboards along the route promote Rotary’s campaign to eradicate polio.
James S. Wood Photography
A Rotary member refills a cyclist’s water bottle at a rest stop. Many local Rotary members served as volunteers along the route.
James S. Wood Photography
Riders who have already finished cheer on fellow cyclists along the final stretch of the ride.
James S. Wood Photography
The Miles to End Polio team and Rotary riders from Arizona take a selfie after the grueling ride.
James S. Wood Photography
Marga Hewko, wife of Rotary General Secretary John Hewko, and other team members cross the finish line after completing 104 miles.
James S. Wood Photography
The Miles to End Polio team gathers at the starting line before sunrise.
James S. Wood Photography

The fight to eradicate polio got a major financial boost from the annual bike ride that took place 21 November in Arizona, USA. Rotary General Secretary John Hewko and a team of eight RI staff members helped raise $2.9 million. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match the funds 2-to-1, bringing the total contribution to PolioPlus to nearly $9 million.

This is the fourth year in a row that Hewko has biked in the 104-mile (167 km) El Tour de Tucson ride, one of the country’s top cycling events. More than 100 Rotary members from Arizona and around the world hit the pavement with the Evanston team.

The RI staff riders have been training together since September. “In the beginning, riding 104 miles seemed impossible,” says Jean Stanula, Rotary’s Global Events supervisor. “But we came together early Saturday mornings and rode 20, 40, 60, and 80 miles. After a while, it felt like we could do anything.”

Contributions of District Designated Funds (DDFs) were a big part in this year’s fundraising effort, with more than $1.4 million collected. Districts can continue to donate DDFs to support the fundraiser through 30 November. President-elect John Germ will visit the district that donates the most DDFs, and the top five contributing districts will be recognized onstage at the 2016 Rotary Convention in Seoul.

Rotary members have taken part in the ride since 2009, when the End Polio Now campaign was designated an official beneficiary of the race, allowing Rotary cyclists to gather pledges for the campaign. In the first year, 27 cyclists raised $35,000. The number has grown exponentially ever since.

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