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4 March, 2021

Locals step up the fight against polio

THE Rotary Club of Cairns West raised more than $1000 for polio eradication when they met at Barron’s Bistro, Freshwater Station on Saturday, February 27.

By Tanya Murphy

Global polio-eradication ambassador Susanne Rea (centre) with Rotary Club members Nauman, Makoto, Jeff, David and Angela.

Around 50 people from around the region attended the sold-out afternoon tea, with some travelling from Mossman and Mareeba.

The event was part of the ‘World’s Greatest Meal,’ a now-global Rotary event founded by local Palm Cove resident Susanne Rea, which raises money to eradicate polio, a disease which still exists in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The event also celebrated the centenary since the first Rotary clubs were started in Australia and New Zealand in 1921, and the 116th anniversary of the founding of Rotary in Chicago on February 23, 1905.

A childhood polio survivor, Ms Rea founded the WGM in 2014 to encourage Rotary members to host meals in exchange for donations.

Since then it has grown enormously, and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donating $2 for every $1 raised by Rotary, WGM has raised more than $7 million to date.

To keep the momentum alive, Rea reverse-mortgaged her house and embarked on a world tour, speaking, vaccinating, and motivating across 32 countries.

She pays her own way, and local Rotary members host her whenever possible.

“We raise awareness as well as funds,” she said.

“I spend a lot of time explaining what goes on in Pakistan with the training of the polio workers.”

Ms Rea said her motivation was to make an impact during her retirement.

She thanked the organisers of the event and the major sponsors, Joe Vella Insurance Brokers and Mark Dodge Motoring as well as raffle donors.

For more information on Rotary in Cairns, hosting a World’s Greatest Meal, fundraiser event or to get involved more with Rotary in Cairns, contact: Jeff Haynes on 0417 756 849 or email

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