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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Flight to End Polio Lands in Cairns

Two American pilots who are flying around the world in a small plane will stop in Cairns on July 4 for a special polio fundraiser. 

Peter Teahen and John Ockenfels are travelling more than 40,000 kilometres around the globe over a three-month period for the ‘Flight to End Polio’, promoting Rotary International’s End Polio Now initiative. 

Combined Rotary Clubs of Cairns Spokeswoman Rita Zappulla met with Susanne Rea, a polio survivor and fundraising advocate, at Cairns Airport this morning ahead of the event to raise awareness. 

Peter and John will take off from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 5, 2023 in a Cessna T210M (single engine) airplane. Along the way, they will encourage support for polio eradication.

Both Peter and John are pilots, Rotarians, and members of the Fellowship of Flying Rotarians. Polio eradication has been a primary focus of Rotary for over 35 years and continues to be a major initiative. While the end of polio may be near, no child anywhere is safe until every child has been vaccinated.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a paralysing and potentially deadly disease that most commonly affects children under the age of 5. Most know it as poliovirus. The virus is spread person to person, typically through contaminated water. It can attack the nervous system, and in some instances, lead to paralysis. Although there is no cure, there is a safe and effective vaccine.

Peter and John will attend a fundraising welcome event on 4 July, backed by the Combined Rotary Clubs of Cairns.

Every dollar raised at the event and during their incredible journey is being tripled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

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