The Rotary Foundation received a $500,000.00 gift from the late Fred and Bette Cotton of Vancouver. The funds received on December 30, 2015, will support the Rotary International polio eradication campaign.
Fred Cotton who died in 2009 was a long time member of the Rotary Club of Vancouver. His wife Bette died in 2014. Both were active in many organizations in Vancouver and Mayne Island. Fred Cotton held a variety of executive positions with Simsons-Sears Canada.
 “This is an exceptionally generous gift from Fred and Bette, a couple who were committed to making our community locally and internationally a better place” said Terry Gunderson, president of the Rotary Club of Vancouver and friend of Fred and Bette Cotton.
“We really are almost there,” Gunderson said, referring to the worldwide polio eradication goal. “We deeply appreciate the incredible kindness of Fred and Bette. The Cottons will truly change thousands of children’s lives.”
Chris Offer, an Endowment Major Gift Advisor with The Rotary Foundation said: “We are so grateful for this donation and the good that it will do to finally eradicate polio from the earth.” Offer a local Rotary member has worked on the polio eradication campaign in India and South Sudan.
Offer said, that the Cotton’s donation will be matched 2-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has committed to match every new dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication up to $35 million a year through 2018.  It will also be matched 2-1 by the Government of Canada which has committed to $12 million to match Canadian donations to polio eradication. With the match a total of $2.5 million will go to polio eradication.
“The Cotton’s donation means more than two and half million children will be vaccinated. These children be able to run and play because of this gift.” said Offer.
Worldwide, 70 polio cases have been confirmed by the WHO in 2015, less than a quarter of the 341 infections reported in 2014. Overall, the annual number of polio cases has plummeted by more than 99 percent since the initiative was launched in 1988, when polio infected about 350,000 children a year.
Quick Facts
  • Polio is one of the world’s most enduring infectious diseases and mainly affects children under the age of five. Addressing polio through immunization is one of the most cost-effective health interventions to end preventable child mortality.
  • Since 1988, at least 2.5 billion children around the world have been immunized. Today, more than 10 million people who would otherwise have been paralyzed by the polio virus are walking thanks to global polio eradication efforts.
  • Since 1988, Rotary has contributed nearly $1.5 billion and countless volunteer hours to the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries. The disease remains endemic in only two countries -- Afghanistan and Pakistan -- although other countries remain at risk for imported cases.
  • A highly infectious disease, polio causes paralysis and is sometimes fatal.  As there is no cure, the best protection is prevention. For less than $1 worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life.  After an international investment of more than US$9 billion, and the successful engagement of over 200 countries and millions of volunteer hours, polio could be the first human disease of the 21st century to be eradicated.