Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Going to great lengths in polio fundraiser

Rotorua Rotarians are encouraging local swimmers to enter a fundraiser of global proportions as they join an international effort to eradicate the disease of polio.

Rotary Club of Rotorua Sunrise members Russell Hallam and Sandy Hall are right behind the Rotorua leg of the international Swimarathon being held at the Aquatic Centre on Saturday, February 23 from 5pm to 7pm.

The fundraising event costs just $5 to enter or participants can get sponsored for each length of the pool they complete.

Mr Hallam said it was a major project for Rotary International in its attempt to wipe out the disease around the world and every little bit counted.

"There are no prizes, but we feel doing it for a great cause like this is enough."

Mr Hallam said he was pleased with the help he and the club had received from the district council and staff at the Aquatic Centre which allowed participants, both swimmers and spectators, free entry to the pools for the event.

"Get some of your workmates, friends or family to sponsor you. It will be a fun evening with a barbecue, fun events and refreshments available as well."

Rotary International is also hoping to set a new world record for holding the world's largest one-day swimming event.

"So you could also be part of a new world record if you come for a swim. You don't even need to swim a whole length, just participating is enough," he said.

According to the New Zealand Ministry of Health website polio (poliomyelitis) is caused by a virus which can lead to a mild or very serious illness. The virus infects the bowel and from there can attack the nervous system, causing meningitis or paralysis.

Polio has disappeared from New Zealand and most parts of the world as a result of immunisation. The Western Pacific region was declared polio free in 2000.

However, the disease is still prevalent in much of central Africa and in parts of Asia, including Pakistan.

To enter the Rotary International Swimarathon at the Aquatic Centre on Saturday February 23, call Russell Hallam on (07) 348 6034, or visit

- Rotorua Daily Post

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