Enjoy a pizza, eradicate polio forever

Believe it or not, when I joined the Susanville Rotary Club a few years back, some of the biggest naysayers in town claimed I’d turned to the dark side. They alleged I had officially become a card-carrying member of Lassen County’s dreaded Good Old Boy’s Club. My new commitment to service above self awakened their deepest fears, and they reckoned my club membership also confirmed their scariest suspicion that everything I write in the paper is now and for all time indisputably and provably biased. And they knew all this just because I joined Rotary.

According to one noisy naysayer, since I frequently rode to the weekly Rotary luncheons with Jim Chapman and others, I had become, in fact, Chapman’s puppet. That naysayer even claimed Chapman told me what to put in the paper each week. I mean, one of them actually saw me talking to Chapman! In his car! In front of the newspaper!

Another naysayer told me he was so disappointed in me because the Sam Williams he met when I came to Susanville 20 years ago would never, ever even consider joining the Rotary Good Old Boy’s Club.

Oh my. Talk about ridiculous conspiracy theories. Welcome to Susanville, Batman.

All that genius conjecture aside, here’s one of Rotary’s accomplishments of which I’m most proud.

Thursday, Oct. 24 is World Polio Day — a day when thousands of Rotary Clubs around the globe hold events and fundraisers to further the club’s progress in the global fight to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.

The local club and Pizza Factory have joined together in a fundraiser this Thursday in which Pizza Factory will donate a portion of its proceeds to help the club’s international effort to end polio. For nearly 40 years Rotary has battled this deadly disease that most commonly affects children under the age of 5.

Rotary, as a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, reports 99.9 percent of cases have been reduced since the first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines began in 1979.

So far more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries have been immunized, and Rotary has contributed more than $1.8 billion to the effort.

Today, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, but if efforts stopped today, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children every year. According to Rotary Club estimates, it costs about $3 to provide the vaccine to a child; 430 million children were vaccinated in 39 countries in 2017; and it cost $100 million to conduct polio surveillance worldwide.

Famous people stricken with polio include musician Neil Young, Nazi Joseph Goebbels, director Francis Ford Coppola, golfer Jack Nicklaus, author Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, actor Johnny Weissmuller, singer Judy Collins and U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

If you’d like to help in the worldwide effort to eradicate this dreadful disease forever, just stop by Pizza Factory on Thursday for lunch or dinner. A portion of your bill will go to the Rotary Club to help in its battle against polio.

Together we can make this disease a memory for the history books. Thanks for your concern and your help. Just imagine a world in which polio had stricken its last victim.

Oh, and let me say I’ve only been here 20 years — not nearly long enough to qualify as a Good Old Boy (and I don’t grow alfalfa so I won’t be asked to join the Alfalfa Mafia, either). And since my children didn’t go to school here and their kids are nowhere near Susanville, it seems pretty unlikely they’ll ever achieve Good Old Boy status either. Nah, truth be told, my bloodline and I are absolutely out of contention.

But fear not — those gnarly naysayers can always find some new bone to chew on.