Paving the way to eliminate polio
WHEN Robert Pennicott has finished his circumnavigation of Australia, his yellow dinghy may have become synonymous with the eradication of polio disease.
The Tasmanian fisherman and tourism operator will travel more than 10,000 nautical miles in a yellow boat with his crew for two-and-a-half months to raise awareness and funds to wipe out polio disease from the world.
Mr Pennicott will be stopping at Airlie Beach on Friday and will speak about his journey and the campaign at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
It forms part of a long-time Rotary project to end polio in developing countries where vaccinations are unaffordable in countries including Nigeria, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Rotary district assistance governor Mark O’Donnell said the vaccine costs just 60 cents for one dose.
The target is $200 million and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has pledged to match the target with $355 million if it is reached by June 30 next year.
So far, Rotary has raised more than $160 million and needs a further $39 million to achieve the goal. Rotary has achieved substantial success through its long-standing Polio Plus campaign, aiming to rid the world of the disease.
After 25 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eliminating the disease, but say a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all. The journey kicked off from Sydney on May 30 and has made stops in Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Ballina, Brisbane, Hervey Bay, Gladstone, Yeppoon and Mackay so far.
They plan to finish back in Sydney on August 15.