While music will still be the main drawing card at the city of Dunkirk's Music on the Pier Thursday, the eradication of polio will also be featured.
Members of the Dunkirk, Fredonia and Westfield-Mayville Rotary clubs will be present with information, handouts and videos about the eradication effort that will be shown.
Dr. Irene Strychalski DDS, is a foundation chair for the Rotary and is serving as general chairman for the event.
"Polio was a terrible disease, it's a very communicative disease and people catch it from other people due to sanitation issues," she explained. "This used to be a problem, and of course hasn't been lately in the United States or the Western world, but it is still polio endemic worldwide in several countries although they've been immunizing their children. It's stopped wars and had national immunization days, 5 million children in one day.
"Albert Sabin developed the oral vaccine, ... he was a Rotarian and he said 'OK, we can pinpoint this disease because we can eradicate it. We have the vaccine, we just have to get it to everybody and end this horrible crippling.'"
Sabin administered the first two drops and started the Rotary effort called the PolioPlus campaign.
The program got rolling in 1985 and since then Rotary has been working to eradicate polio and making sure that every child under 5 gets the two drops.
"It's a public awareness as well as, obviously, a fundraising campaign to try and raise funds so we can go the final inch," Strychalski explained. "The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have come up with $360 million. The Rotary has contributed more than $900 million to the effort since the 1985 start of the anti-polio campaign.
"We are now at that final inch, very few cases now. One type of polio is already gone. We've got two more types left that have an extra-strong vaccine now and they do expect to do this and that's overcome tremendous obstacles. So what we are doing in conjunction with Music on the Pier we are proclaiming Thursday as the Northern Chautauqua County Polio Eradication Day."
The mayors of Westfield, Fredonia and Dunkirk will be present to help with the effort. The folks wearing the same 'polio awareness' t-shirts are Rotarians.
"Of course we'll be selling some Rotary bracelets, shirts," Strychalski said. "The final thing in the evening will be the countdown to this lighting. ... It's going to say 'end polio now.'
"This has been done on a much larger scale ... this is just to scale to our situation."
Polio vaccination is required for children entering U.S. school systems.
"We have to continue to do it until the last case of polio has been gone for five years," Strychalski explained. "It can resurface like a flash. It's a plane ride away."
Strychalski said a lot of people have polio without knowing it.
"The paralysis is 100 to one, so for 100 people who have it only one person shows the after effects of the paralysis.," she explained. "We can all run around being carriers and no one will notice."
Strychalski said the vaccines most Americans received is still working.
Progress has been made - plenty of it - but there is work to do.
Worldwide in 1998, 350,000 children were paralyzed by polio, by 2010 that annual number was 1,349 cases. There were about 2.5 billion children vaccinated since 1988 with over 5 million saved from paralysis and 250,000 deaths from polio prevented.
"We need help; it's not Gone until it's Gone," is the Rotary's battle cry against this disease.
The Nickel City Pimp Choir will provide the music for the evening. The eight-piece Buffalo band features the rythym and blues legends of the '60s and '70s, including music from the likes of Al Green, James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and the Blues Brothers.
Thursday's Music on the Pier is sponsored by Dunkirk Rotary Club and Lake Shore Orthodontics. The Music on the Pier Series is provided free of charge through the generous support of Coors Light, Cott-Cliffstar, LLC, Lake Shore Savings Bank, NRG Energy, 96.5 KIX , and Advanced Production Group.
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