“What an example you are leading for other clubs … you guys do a great job!” District 5520 Gov. Lonnie Leslie told the Rotary Club of Los Alamos during its Tuesday meeting at the Manhattan Project Restaurant.
Leslie congratulated the local Rotary Club for the growth of its membership and as well as its community programs.
“I certainly thank you for all you’re doing,” he said.
Leslie, who is a retired school district administrator, is also past president of the Clovis Rotary Club and has served as literacy chairman and assistant governor for the district. He has served in Rotary since 1991 and earned “Rotarian of the Year.” He and his wife, Ardeth, have participated in four Rotary Friendship Exchanges.
During his talk Tuesday, Leslie said going on these exchanges have helped him see what Rotary does around the world.
“I encourage you to do that … it makes a difference in your Rotary life,” he said.
Leslie was impressed with the local club and also reiterated following this year’s Rotary’s theme, “Light Up Rotary” to keep regular club meetings lively. “It has to be fun,” he said.
It was Rotary’s fun atmosphere that encouraged Leslie to join the organization. Working as an administrator in the Clovis School District did not allow him a lot of lunch breaks but he decided once he was able to have an hour break, he would spend it with Rotary.
“They had a lot of fun and I wanted to be part of that; be a part of that fellowship,” he said.
Leslie also encouraged members to lighten the load for other Rotarians who do a lot of club work and to enlighten the community about the work that Rotary does around the world.
One of the major focuses for the international club is to eradicate polio from the world by 2018. Since Rotary’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative began in 1988, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year to 416 confirmed in 2013, he said. That same year, India – once the epicenter for the poliovirus – was declared polio-free and today only three countries remain endemic: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. However, conflict and insecurity in some parts of the world have elevated the risk for outbreaks and international spread of the disease, prompting the World Health Organization to declare polio a public health emergency last month. Funding of life-saving immunization activities over the next several years remains critical to ensuring polio is eradicated by 2018.
He recounted how speaking at the recent opening of Rotary International’s annual convention in Sydney, Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced his government’s commitment to end polio once and for all by committing $100 million over five years.
Leslie spoke about Rotarians who go door-to-door in poor neighborhoods in other countries to encourage inoculations and provide polio shots. He also shared the story of a Rotarian crippled by polio as a child who dragged himself to the stage at a meeting to demonstrate what his life would have been like had he not received assistance from Rotary. Walking would have only been possible by dragging himself across the ground using rope and a tire.
“Rotary makes a difference around the world,” Leslie said.