Race to benefit PolioPlus effort

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

First Bank and Washington Noon Rotary are teaming up to host the first-ever PolioPlus 10K Run/Walk, Fun Run and Kids’ Dash.
The event, an End Polio Now challenge, is set for Feb. 7 beginning at 1 p.m., according to event chairman Paige Allen Harris.
“Most people think polio has been eradicated in the world since it is no longer a problem in the United States,” Harris said. “But it is still an endemic in Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Literally, in those countries people are out on bikes with the vaccine in their backpack, peddling to the remote villages. They literally go house to house with the vaccine.”
Polio is still a concern for other countries, however.
“If we stopped vaccinating children for polio, the U.S. would be endemic again within a decade,” Harris said. “All it takes is one person. Polio is just a plane ride away.”
The registration fee, which is tax deductible, is $25 per person, if paid by Feb. 1 and $30 after that date, according to Harris. Entry fee for youths 18 and under is $15 per person; Fun Run cost is $8 per person. Anyone interested in participating may call Harris at 252-945-5748 or send e-mail to paharris1@suddenlink.net.
“Using our legs in this way seemed appropriate to help those who might be damaged by polio,” Harris said. “Our course is certified by East Carolina Run, and this is a great training run for marathon runners.”
The first 150 registered participants in the 10K race and the first 50 in the Fun Run receive a PolioPlus T-shirt, Harris said. Awards will be given to the top runners in the 10K and Fun Run events, and each child participating in the Kids’ Dash will receive a small medal.
In a nod to Washington’s unofficial mascot, a crab emblem will adorn the winners’ trophies, Harris added.
Rotary International is working to raise $200 million to add to the $355 million in challenge grants from the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, Harris said.
“The funds have to be raised by June 30, 2012, so we’re getting started early,” she noted. “We hope to do this race every year.”
Feb. 7 is shaping up to be a busy day in Washington. Along with the PolioPlus 10K event, the city also is hosting the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships. And it’s Super Bowl Sunday.
“We’re hoping to bring even more people to Washington that weekend,” Harris said. “Washington is a great town, and what better way to see it than to run through it?”
As for the Super Bowl, Harris said, organizers are planning a post-race party at Pirate’s Pub to watch the big game.
Joining First Bank and Washington Noon Rotary as contributing sponsors are Beaufort County Regional Health Systems, WITN-TV, Seiler Singleton, F. Ray Moore Oil Co., Carawon-Allen Agency, Paul Funeral Home, East Carolina Bank and Wells Fargo.
Not a runner? You may still support PolioPlus by sending a tax deductible to Washington Noon Rotary, P.O. Box 1865, Washington, N.C. 27889. Be sure to include PolioPlus 10K on the memo line.
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Did you know?
• Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease that still strikes children mainly under the age of 5.
• Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death, and because there is no known cure, the best protection is prevention.
• The disease can cause paralysis within hours and is almost always irreversible.
• Historically, polio has been the world’s greatest cause of disability.
• In the most severe cases, polio attacks the motor neurons of the brain stem, causing breathing difficulty or even death.
Source: Rotary International. For more information, visit www.rotary.org.
They survived polio …
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the most famous person believed to have been affected by polio.
Other notables include actor Alan Alda, actress Marion Davies, actress Mia Farrow, film director-producer Francis Ford Coppola, game show host Bill Cullen, singer-songwriter Judy Collins, violinist Itzhak Perlman, singer-actress Dinah Shore, former U.S. Senator John East of North Carolina, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (whose wife also contracted the disease), Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Ethelda Bleibtrey, track-and-field Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph, golfer jack Nicklaus, writer and former editor of The Washington Post Benjamin C. Bradlee and the late Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson.
— Kevin Scott Cutler