Cort Vaughan is a Polio survivor. Cort joined the Rotary Club of Greater Bend to help eradicate Polio. He founded the Pints for Polio fundraiser in 2012 to raise money for global Polio eradication and to increase local awareness regarding the need to vaccinate all children. Pints for Polio has raised over $20,000 for the PolioPlus Fund. Cort was appointed Rotary District 5110 PolioPlus Chair in 2014.

Back in the ’50s we knew Polio was caused by a virus, but not how it was spread, so parents were very cautious about letting their kids in public. Cort was 2 when he was diagnosed. He was completely isolated for weeks (a very scary time, obvioulsy). Cort spent 4 months in daily physical therapy and receiving other treatments to prevent paralysis. He was fitted with a brace and had to learn to walk all over again. He was immediately recruited as a fundraiser by the March of Dimes.

  • The March of Dimes funded the research that helped develop the vaccine and later to manufacture it.
  • Cort continued to receive physical therapy and received special accommodations such as special shoes and was fortunate enough to be able to receive treatment throughout his life.
  • In other countries where medical care is not available, they end up crippled for life and impoverished.
  • Even getting the vaccines to many of these remote areas is difficult. Rotary has conducted national immunization days in order to reach these remote areas, working closely with the locals, so that every last child gets the 2 oral drops that prevent polio.
  • In 1985, Polio had been wiped out of the US but there were 350k cases a year in other countries. Now, in 2014, only 356 cases were identified. This is mostly because of Rotary’s efforts.
  • Experts believe that we could see the last case of Polio in Africa this year. This is because of Rotary and its partners.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have had less luck with eradication because of urban slums where there is no access to clean water or proper sanitation. Repeated vaccinations are necessary. There are a lot of systemic problems. In other areas, there are tribal areas with no connection to the central government and it is difficult to get health workers in to those areas. Fortunately, Rotary has clubs in Pakistan who can help negotiate with tribal leaders.

Back in late December, one unvaccinated individual contracted the measles and spread it to other unvaccinated people at Disneyland. There are over 100 cases in the US and also in Mexico because of that one case. This is troubling since measles was eradicated. The same thing can happen with polio.

In herd immunity, the vaccinated protect the unvaccinated. As more and more people opt out of vaccinating, the risk of outbreaks increases and herd immunity is broken. This is what happened at Disneyland. We need to get the herd immunity back up and the word needs to be spread. There are some people that can’t be vaccinated and they are in danger because of those who can and don’t. We have to help protect each other.

What Can You Do?

Spread the word, fundraise, donate. Every dollar is matched 2 to 1 by the Gates foundation, which triples the value of your donation.

You can also join the Polio Plus Society. This month, if you commit to a $100 annual donation until Polio is eradicated, you’ll receive 200 Paul Harris credits, a pin and a certificate of recognition.

You can also come to “Pints for Polio” on April 4 and drink beer at an old fashioned pub crawl for a great cause.