There is no greater example of the meetings industry’s ability to deliver ongoing legacies than last week in Sydney when delegates at the Rotary International Convention 2014, with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and BridgeClimb, raised $120,000 earmarked for the global eradication of polio.
That received a significant boost on Sunday when Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed Rotarians at Sydney Olympic Park where he announced the Australian Government was tipping in $100 million to the cause.
Explained executive director of Rotary Down Under and past governor of Rotary District 9690, Bob Aitken AM, the $120,000 is enough to buy polio immunisation vaccine for 240,000 children.
“We will probably raise a little bit more than that so we could safely say that what we have done this morning is raise enough money for a quarter of a million kids to be immunised against polio,” he said.
His praise for BridgeClimb in achieving this target was full of superlatives.
“They are the most model organisation, superbly organised, and very generous. BridgeClimb agreed to donate half of the ticket price to Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. They didn’t have to do that. They could have offered us a discount but they didn’t, and we’re certainly grateful for their generosity.”
And the Rotary End Polio Now climb did break records. Two in fact. The climb saw Rotary have 340 people on the bridge at the one time, smashing Oprah Winfrey’s previous record of 315, and also breaking the world record for the number of flags flying on any bridge in the world at the one time, with 278 flags flying and 219 different flags.
The 105th Rotary International Convention runs in Sydney until June 4 with around 18,000 registered delegates from more than 150 countries. It is expected to inject close to $70 million into the local economy.
The Rotary International Convention was last held in Australia in Brisbane in 2003, and in Sydney in 1971.