In early June, I was privileged to attend the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been a Rotarian since the mid ‘90’s yet I had never gone to an RI Convention before. In a word, it was OVERWHELMING!
When you first arrive, you’re struck by the diversity and energy of the international attendees, many of them in traditional clothes and all sporting enthusiastic smiles. After several escalator rides, you enter the “House of Friendship” which is essentially the trade show for Rotarians. From products to Rotary logoed clothing to Rotary Action Groups (RAG) displays, it takes over 3 hours to really see everything!
I was impressed and inspired by the line-up of General Session speakers introduced to us each day by John Cena, the WWE wrestler and Polio champion. They included Ashton Kutcher (actor and founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children) on human trafficking, Jack Nicklaus (greatest golfer of all time) who is a Polo Plus ambassador and founded multiple children’s hospitals with his wife Barbara.
But what overwhelmed me the most, was all the international dignitaries who took their turn on stage announcing their government’s pledges, towards the eradication of polio. Our proud Canadian contingency cheered when The Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Ministry of International Development took to the stage to pledge $100 million dollars. The session ended with Bill Gates (on behalf of the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation) pledge to match 2 to 1 the total pledges raised. This brought Rotary’s total 3 year commitment to a staggering $1.2 billion dollars to finally eradicate polio around the globe! Together we can get it done!
Now as we kick off July by celebrating Canada’s 150 th Birthday, I’m reminded of just how wonderful a country we are and how giving our citizens can be. Today, I’m officially the President of the Rotary Club of Cambridge North. I’m proud not just of being a Canadian but of being a Rotarian. This year our club will raise close to $100,000 towards the eradication of polio, water & sanitation projects in Africa and buying wheel chairs for invalids in the Caribbean areas hit hard by poverty and natural disasters.
Our club achieved this by partnering to host local events like August’s Rotary Ribfest and September’s Golf Tournament. We also partner internationally with other clubs around the word to achieve matching grants from the Rotary Foundation celebrating its Centennial this year. Full circle, I’m still overwhelmed by how our club achieves so much more from relationships started with a simple conversation with fellow Rotarians at the Rotary International Conference and I’m eager to lead our small but mighty club to reach new heights.
Please come and have lunch with our club on the 2nd or 4th Wednesday of the month at Galt Country Club.