PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Today, most people do not give much thought to polio.
The crippling infectious disease is incurable and can be fatal, but most cases have been eradicated thanks to the invention of a vaccine.
At the same time, not everyone has access to the vaccine. That is something that the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Presque Isle Rotary Club want to change.
On Wednesday, Oct. 24, the partners will gather to celebrate World Polio Day by presenting a day’s worth of activities meant to raise awareness of Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio worldwide.
The daylong event will act as a fundraiser to help finance the eradication effort. Activities will include a Purple Pinkie Project, during which, for $1, donors can have a pinkie marked with the same purple dye used when Rotary International conducts polio immunizations. One dollar is the estimated cost to immunize each child. Donors can have additional fingers painted for $1 apiece.
The finger painting will happen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the UMPI Campus Center; 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Christie Lobby of Northern Maine Community College; 9 to 10:45 a.m near the Dollar Tree store at the Aroostook Centre Mall;10 a.m. to 4 p.m. near the food court at the mall; and 1-3 p.m. at the main and Pinkham entrances of The Aroostook Medical Center.
All proceeds will benefit Rotary International’s End Polio Now efforts.
According to the federal Centers For Disease Control, polio is caused by a virus that spreads from person to person. It invades the brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis.
Vaccination is the best way to stop the disease from spreading.
While polio was eradicated from the U.S. in 1979, progress has been much slower in other countries. India, for example, was finally declared polio-free in January.
But according to health studies conducted by the CDC, medical personnel have been unable to stop the spread of polio in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Joy Barresi Saucier, president of the Presque Isle Rotary Club, said the organization is excited to be hosting the event. She said that the Purple Pinkie Project is a hands-on way of getting people involved and reminding them of how a small donation can make a difference.
UMPI President Linda Schott said that the college was happy to partner with the PI Rotary Club on the project, adding that students and campus personnel were working hard to prepare for the event.
For information about other related events on Oct. 24, visit www.umpi.edu and click on World Polio Day.