Students from the Midcoast Interact Rotary Club steps from the end of the marathon relay in Lincolnville Beach — Lexi Doudera, Midcoast Interact vice president  (front left), Megan Peabody (behind Doudera, center), Hayley Aydelott, Midcoast Interact president (front right), Fiona Fischer (far right, back)
Students from the Midcoast Interact Rotary Club steps from the end of the marathon relay in Lincolnville Beach — Lexi Doudera, Midcoast Interact vice president (front left), Megan Peabody (behind Doudera, center), Hayley Aydelott, Midcoast Interact president (front right), Fiona Fischer (far right, back)
Members of several midcoast Rotary clubs went the distance last Saturday, October 22, in a fund-raising walk to wipe polio out around the globe. Starting at noon, each club walked six-and-a-half miles, for a total group marathon distance of 26 miles that spanned the midcoast from the Breakwater Marketplace in Rockland to the Belfast Area High School on Waldo Avenue in Belfast.

Over 100 Rotarians participated in the walk, with the Rockland Rotarians starting north at the same time the Belfast Rotarians headed south. The Rotarians met in the middle at Lincolnville Beach to celebrate at the end of the walk at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Midcoast Interact Rotary club members walked the last leg of the marathon into Lincolnville Beach carrying red balloons and chanting "End polio now!" to the cheering of the assembled clubs.

The walk raised approximately $10,000, according to Roberta Walker, the assistant district governor of the midcoast Rotary clubs.

Every dollar raised in Rotary International's End Polio Now Campaign will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation if Rotarians can raise $200 million by next June, according to Walker. Rotarians have raised about $190 million to date, she said.

It seemed an impossibility to vaccinate the globe against polio 50 years ago, according to Walker, but now there are only four countries in the world where polio continues to be an ongoing problem: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

"India had one known case this year," she said.

In the mid-1980s Rotary International embraced the goal to end polio and signed up the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as partners, according to Walker. Over the past 25 years, Rotary International has contributed over $1 billion towards the goal. The Camden Rotary, the West Bay Rotary (Camden Breakfast Club), the Belfast and Rockland Rotary clubs, and the Midcoast Interact Rotary, a high school club, participated in Saturday's marathon walk.