This year, for the first time in its twelve-year history of raising funds for Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign, Rotary Club of Coronado will move its annual Silent Auction to an online platform. And, more good news, it’s free and open to the public.

The End Polio Now Silent Auction will feature dozens of Coronado restaurants and stores – with many of the gift certificates to the establishments purchased or donated by club members.

“The merchants and restaurants benefit, the End Polio Now campaign benefits, and the winning bidder scores!” said the event’s co-chair Sue Maack, who praised club member Jerry Winter in particular, who purchased thousands of dollars in gift certificates from local restaurants and several of the island’s favorite retail shops

The Silent Auction opens to the public on Thursday, Sept. 17. To place a bid, go biddingowl.com/RotaryClubofCoronado.

Rotarian Christine Stokes, who is also executive director of the Coronado Historical Association, created the Rotary auction site, utilizing BiddingOwl.com.

The Silent Auction will also include a preview of items from Rotary’s Live Auction, which will take place as part of the Sept. 25 “Come Away to the Paso Robles Wine Country” wine-tasting webinar. Tickets to that event are also open to the public. Ticket prices are $95 – all proceeds, which are entirely tax-deductible, go to the End Polio Now campaign and will be matched two-to-one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Therefore, a $95 ticket becomes a $285 contribution to the worldwide effort. Tickets to the webinar and Live Auction are offered to everyone, not just club members, at coronadorotary.org.

The webinar will feature three pioneering winemakers of the Paso Robles region: Gary Eberle of Eberle Winery, Austin Hope of Home Family Wines and Janell Dusi of J Dusi Winery. Among the live auction prizes is a three-day getaway to Paso Robles, with a stay at the luxurious SummerWood Inn, wine tasting at four wineries, dining at Thomas Hill Organics restaurant, and a visit to the nighttime “Field of Lights” at Sensorio. Another is the creation of a “Heritage Video,” documenting a family’s history, by Rotarian Ray Karno.

Rotary Club of Coronado, established in 1926 and with more than 250 members, is one of the largest Rotary Clubs in the United States. Since March 15, the club has been holding its weekly meetings virtually via Zoom video, continuing with hosting stimulating guest speakers and instilling club camaraderie.

As a worldwide organization, Rotary is committed to eradicating polio from the face of the earth, noted End Polio Now wine-tasting webinar co-chair Kitt Williams. “After eradicating polio from Nigeria, the continent of Africa was certified polio-free just two weeks ago,” Williams said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a paralyzing and potentially deadly infectious disease that most commonly affects children under the age of 5. The virus spreads from person to person, typically through contaminated water. It can then attack the nervous system, creating breathing problems and paralysis.

In the 1940s and early 1950s, the disease killed thousands and decimated the quality of lives of those who survived, causing many victims to live in “iron lungs” in America. On March 26, 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk announced his creation of a vaccine to a relieved country. Dr. Alfred Sabin created an oral vaccine in 1962, which was cheaper and easier to produce and administer.

Rotary has been working to eradicate polio for more than 30 years. As a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent since its first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979, and has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. So far, Rotary has contributed more than $1.8 billion toward eradicating the disease worldwide.

If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year.

Today, only Afghanistan and Pakistan still harbor the deadly disease. “With coronavirus, we’ve seen how rapidly a virus can spread,” said Maack. “When polio exists in just one country, it threatens the entire world. Working together, we can wipe out this threat, once and for all.”

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