BELFAST, Maine — Five midcoast Rotary clubs are doing something they’ve never done before: Work together in one huge event spreading from Belfast to Rockland.
The local charitable organizations will hold a “marathon” from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. They will then throw a party open to the public beginning at 4:30 p.m. at The Whale’s Tooth Pub at Lincolnville Beach.
The goal is to raise money for polio vaccinations to give to children who live in Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries where the disease still exists.
“Nobody wants their children or grandchildren to develop this disease. We’ve eradicated it from the United States, we just have a few places left. We don’t want it to come back,” said one of the event’s organizers, Doug Curtis of Rockland.
Curtis, who will walk in the marathon, knows local people who had polio as children.
“For my generation, people in their 50s and 60s, we lived it growing up. Back in the ’50s and ’60s people would come in and give polio drinks for people in school, that’s how they’d vaccinate us,” Curtis said.
The local event will be held two days before World Polio Day on Oct. 24.
The Bill Gates Foundation donated $355 million to the cause and challenged Rotarians around the nation to raise $200 million to help eradicate the disease. Each vaccination costs 60 cents.
The midcoast Rotarians want to raise at least $5,000 during their marathon. The marathon is an all-Rotarian, all-walking fundraiser where the five Rotary clubs will each field their own teams. In all, they will walk 26 miles.
The Belfast Rotary Club team will walk from Belfast Area High School to Northport Marine Services. West Bay Rotary Club members will then walk from the marine store to Lincolnville.
From the south, the Rockland Rotary Club will walk to Camden and the Camden Rotary Club will walk to Lincolnville.
The teams expect to be done at 4:30 p.m. and will then throw a celebration at the Whale’s Tooth Pub on Lincolnville Beach.
The public is welcome to the party, but is not invited to walk with the Rotarians because of the danger that could be caused by a large group walking on the side of a busy highway.
People interested in giving on the day of the marathon can donate at several locations along the route, including the Rockland Breakwater Building in Rockland, French and Brawn in Camden, Whale’s Tooth Pub in Lincolnville and the State Farm office on Route 1 in Belfast.