Marathon ride to end polio

A GRAFTON man passed through Bundaberg last week on a 10,000km bike ride for End Polio Now.

Biker Rob Byrne said the goal of his ride was to support The Rotary Foundation's End Polio Now program.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has challenged Rotarians to raise $200 million to support the $355 million that they have contribute to End Polio Now, and this ride is Mr Byrnes' contribution to that challenge.

“I started riding my bicycle from Grafton, New South Wales, in July and expect the trip to Cairns to take a few months,” he told Our Community.

“Rotary started the End Polio Now campaign in 1985 when 1000 kids a day were getting polio around the world.

“That figure is now down to 1000 kids a year.

“Polio is not that well known in Australia but it is a crippling disease that paralyses the limbs and or lungs.”

Mr Byrne said the ride was not just about fundraising but about raising community awareness of the eradication and re-emergence of this disease.

“If we don't eradicate polio, it will be back to the bad old days where thousands of kids get paralysed each year,” he said.

“That's the key part of this message – that's why I am doing this outrageous bike ride.”

The bicycle Mr Byrnes is travelling on is called a RANS Stratus XP, a long wheelbase recumbent that is loaded with more than 30kg of gear.

Another challenge of The Rotary Foundation's End Polio Now campaign is to increase the amount that governments and others are spending on polio eradication from about $550 million per year to $750 million.

“Some governments, including Australia, have stopped making contributions,” Mr Byrne said.

“The economic benefits of finishing the job of eradication have been estimated at $40-$50 billion, not to mention all the kids saved from living with paralysis.

“The situation right now is precarious.”

For more information email Mr Byrne at rob@tourvelo.com.



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